Student transportation card: discrimination or not?

According to the European Commission, the Netherlands discriminate students from other EU countries by not giving them free access to Dutch public transport. Dutch students do get a student travel card. The commission advises the Court of Justice of the European Union to look at the case.The commission makes its claims because of a complaint by a British student in 2008, who studied in the Netherlands as part of the Erasmus program. According to Brussels, the Dutch government treats Dutch and European students unequally with the rules around public transport for students. The government here on the other hand claims that the public transportation card should be seen as a conditional loan, and that Erasmus students do not pay tuition to a Dutch institute.

Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston of the EU’s Court of Justice does not agree with this. She advises the court to reject the claim. According to her, it needs to be proven that Dutch and European students in the Netherlands are in a similar situation before you can say that the government discriminates the latter. She says this is not done properly in the case of the British student. She does say that for students who are in a regular program at Dutch universities, the situation could be different and the court might be able to prove discrimination there.

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