The municipality of Groningen has decided not to appeal a court ruling that found it had unlawfully excluded students from receiving the energy subsidy, the Dagblad van het Noorden reports today.
The court ruled in June that the municipality’s policy of excluding students was discriminatory and violated the Equal Treatment Act that prohibits discrimination and applies to various areas of social life, such as employment, education, housing, and public services. The municipality had argued that students were less likely to be impacted by rising energy prices, but the court ruled that this was not a legitimate justification for excluding them and ordered the city to pay the subsidy to all eligible students applied for it.
In a statement, the municipality expressed its respect for the court’s decision and said it would not challenge it. The city officials said they would now work to put the decision into effect and make sure that all residents who qualify, including students, get the energy aid.
The energy subsidy, also known as the energy compensation, is a one-time payment of €800 that is intended to help low-income households with the rising cost of energy. The subsidy was introduced by the government in response to the war in Ukraine, which has caused energy prices to soar.
The court’s decision is a triumph for students, who had asserted that they were being unfairly denied the subsidy. A group of students filed a lawsuit against Groningen and four other municipalities earlier in May, challenging their decision to exclude students from this year’s energy subsidy program.
Last year, a Nijmegen University undergraduate, Mark Mulder, won a legal battle against local authorities for their exclusion of students from the cost of living assistance program.
The National Student Union President, Joram van Velzen, stated at the time that the ruling was a significant precedent for students in the Netherlands. The Union also said that over a thousand students were involved in the legal action against municipal councils, with Groningen, Leiden, Delft, Rotterdam, and Vijfheerenlanden being the first to be sued.