Sunday

25th Sep 2022

Germany to ban EU citizens who abuse welfare system

  • EU citizens will have up to six months to find a job in Germany or return home. (Photo: Stephan Mosel)

The German government on Wednesday (27 August) approved draft legislation aimed at curbing 'welfare abuse' by other EU citizens coming to the country.

"Freedom of movement is an indispensable element of European integration, which we fully support. But we must not close our eyes to the problems linked to it," German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said in a press conference when presenting the bill and a 140-page report on the problems relating to freedom of movement and access to welfare for EU citizens.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

One of the new provisions envisaged by the German government is a controversial re-entry ban of up to five years for EU citizens who tricked the system or lied in their applications for welfare benefits.

So far, such bans could only be demanded by German authorities for individuals who were a threat to national security or public safety.

A spokesman for the EU commission told this website the EU executive will "have to look very closely at this re-entry ban to verify its compliance with the Freedom of Movement Directive of 2004."

"But we are reassured by indications that the German ministers have given, regarding their intention to remain compliant with EU legislation," EU commission spokesman Jonathan Todd added.

The draft bill also limits to six months the period in which an EU citizen can stay in Germany and look for a job, a measure which is in line with the EU rules on freedom of movement.

But another controversial measure, demanded by Bavarian Conservatives, is to restrict child allowances for people whose kids stay in the home country.

The language of the draft bill is vague, however, only promising to "verify" if the child allowance could be cut back to the living standards of the home country.

If such measures were to be put in place, it would be a breach of EU law, which states that EU workers who pay taxes are entitled to the same child allowances as nationals, irrespective of the country they come from.

In addition, EU citizens who cash in child allowances will have to give a tax registration number and document the existence of the child, so that they are not being paid both at home and in Germany. This measure is in line with EU law.

Several German cities had complained about the arrival of large families of Roma, notably from Romania and Bulgaria, who are entitled to child allowances and social benefits despite not seriously seeking a job in Germany.

The German state has beefed up by another €25 million an existing pot of €200 million that was allocated in March to the municipalities under strain this year.

The German health ministry plans to chip in with €10 million for the vaccination of children and teenagers from EU member states, even if their health insurance status is unclear.

Meanwhile, further €40 million are to be spent on integration courses sponsored by the interior ministry this year, coupled with funds from the European Social Fund for the most disadvantaged persons.

Klaus Zimmermann from the Bonn-based Institute for the Study of Labour told this website that the new measures adopted by the government are aimed at "scaring people off" from applying to social benefits.

"It's supposed to calm people in Germany, but to the outer world it will have the effect of scaring off qualified migrants, who are afraid of the unemployment risk. This is detrimental to labour mobility," Zimmerman said.

EU court fine tunes migrant welfare rights

EU nationals who move to another country to look for a job are not entitled to social benefits, but they cannot automatically be denied them if they've aready worked in the country, an EU court advisor has said.

Podcast

How Europe helped normalise Georgia Meloni

Should Georgia Meloni be considered neofascist? She insists she's a patriotic conservative. And indeed, if she's prime minister, she's expected to respect Italy's democracy — if only to keep money flowing from the EU.

Editorial

Background reads: Italy's election

With Italy heading to the ballot boxes this Sunday, let's take a look at what EUobserver has published that can help understand the country's swing to the (far)-right.

News in Brief

  1. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  2. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  3. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  4. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  5. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  6. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up
  7. Finland 'closely monitoring' new Russian mobilisation
  8. Flights out of Moscow sell out after Putin mobilisation order

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. Ireland joins EU hawks on Russia, as outrage spreads
  2. Editor's weekly digest: Plea for support edition
  3. Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap
  4. How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes
  5. 'No big fish left' for further EU sanctions on Russians
  6. Meloni's likely win will not necessarily strengthen Orbán
  7. France latest EU member to step up government spending in 2023
  8. Big Tech now edges out Big Energy in EU lobbying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us