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Key facts of the case:
  1. This request for a preliminary ruling concerns the interpretation of Article 13(5) of Council Directive 2003/9/EC of 27 January 2003 laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers (OJ 2003 L 31, p. 18), read in conjunction with Articles 13(1) and (2) and 14(1), (3), (5) and (8) thereof. 
  2. The request has been made in proceedings between the Federaal agentschap voor de opvang van asielzoekers (Federal agency for the reception of asylum seekers; ‘Fedasil’) and Mr Selver Saciri and Ms Danijela Dordevic, in their own name and as the legal representatives of their minor children, Danjel Saciri, Denis Saciri and Sanela Saciri (‘the Saciri family’), and the Openbaar Centrum voor Maatschappelijk Welzijn van Diest (Diest public centre for social welfare; ‘the OCMW’), concerning Fedasil’s refusal to grant the Saciri family social assistance because it was not possible to ensure their reception in a reception centre for asylum seekers. 
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Fourth Chamber) hereby rules:
  1. Article 13(5) of Council Directive 2003/9/EC of 27 January 2003 laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers must be interpreted as meaning, where a Member State has opted to grant the material reception conditions in the form of financial allowances or vouchers, that those allowances must be provided from the time the application for asylum is made, in accordance with the provisions of Article 13(1) of that directive, and must meet the minimum standards set out in Article 13(2) thereof. That Member State must ensure that the total amount of the financial allowances covering the material reception conditions is sufficient to ensure a dignified standard of living and adequate for the health of applicants and capable of ensuring their subsistence, enabling them in particular to find housing, having regard, if necessary, to the preservation of the interests of persons having specific needs, pursuant to Article 17 of that directive. The material reception conditions laid down in Article 14(1), (3), (5) and (8) of Directive 2003/9 do not apply to the Member States where they have opted to grant those conditions in the form of financial allowances only. Nevertheless, the amount of those allowances must be sufficient to enable minor children to be housed with their parents, so that the family unity of the asylum seekers may be maintained. 
  2. Directive 2003/9 must be interpreted as meaning that it does not preclude, where the accommodation facilities specifically for asylum seekers are overloaded, the Member States from referring the asylum seekers to bodies within the general public assistance system, provided that that system ensures that the minimum standards laid down in that directive as regards the asylum seekers are met.