Saturday

24th Jul 2021

Germany sets up panel on migrant welfare

  • Central station in Berlin: figures for migrant arrivals will be available in February (Photo: svenwerk)

The German government is setting up a special panel on labour migration and possible welfare abuse, comprising of state secretaries from almost all ministries in response to calls by local municipalities and the Bavarian Conservatives to curb 'social benefits tourism.'

"Migration and freedom of movement - both are expressly welcome and wanted by the German government. The panel will probe if and what operational and legislative measures can be taken or proposed by the ministries to prevent a potential abuse of social benefits," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Wednesday (8 January) in a press conference.

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

He added that the new panel should put forward first results by June.

One of the coalition parties - the Bavarian Christian Social Union - in recent weeks has stepped up its rhetoric against alleged social benefits abuses as it prepares for local and EU elections with the slogan "who cheats is kicked out."

The mayors of some 15 German towns had also complained about an increase in welfare recipients - particularly Roma who are entitled to child benefits.

Seibert however stressed that the new panel is "not targeting a particular nationality or ethnicity."

"It's about people. It's about migration. It's about local municipalities and how they can cope with it," the spokesman said.

The UK in recent months has stirred up a debate on changing EU laws on labour migration to prevent people from eastern European countries to cash in child benefits and send them back home, especially with Romania and Bulgaria having their labour market restrictions lifted all across the bloc on 1 January.

Germany so far has kept a cautious stance on the matter.

A spokesman for the German interior ministry said fresh figures on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants can be expected at earliest in February.

Statistics for 2012 show that less that there were fewer than 50,000 new arrivals from the two countries, even if the numbers are higher than in 2011.

In the months up to June 2013, there were another 44,600 Romanians and Bulgarians who came to Germany to work.

Meanwhile, the Polish-British row on labour migration continues to rumble on, with the two countries' Prime Ministers holding a phone conversation on Wednesday.

British PM David Cameron restated that it had been "wrong" to let Poles and other eastern European workers enter the British market in 2004.

"We need to address the impact on countries’ benefits systems, including for example paying child benefit to families living abroad," Cameron said in a press statement after the phone talk.

His office said that he and Polish PM Donald Tusk will have "further bilateral discussions" on the topic.

Meanwhile, some MPs from Polish fringe parties have started calling on Polish shoppers to boycott the British supermarket chain, Tesco, in reaction to the UK rhetoric.

Roma are EU citizens too, Romanian President says

Romania's president has strongly defended freedom of movement within the EU, saying Roma have the same rights as other EU citizens and should not be misused for populist campaigns.

News in Brief

  1. Macron changes phone after Pegasus spyware revelations
  2. Italy to impose 'vaccinated-only' entry on indoor entertainment
  3. EU 'will not renegotiate' Irish protocol
  4. Brussels migrants end hunger strike
  5. Elderly EU nationals in UK-status limbo after missed deadline
  6. WHO: 11bn doses needed to reach global vaccination target
  7. EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021
  8. Spain ends outdoor mask-wearing despite surge

Opinion

Sweden's non-lockdown didn't work - why not?

The Swedish king would have been better advised to use his annual Christmas interview to call for unity of purpose and shed light on the political roots of the country's response.

Column

BioNTech: Stop talking about their 'migration background'

I understand that the German-Turkish community - often subjected to condescension in Germany - celebrated the story. Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türecki represent scientific excellence and business success at the highest level.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia
  2. Why is offshore wind the 'Cinderella' of EU climate policy?
  3. Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride
  4. Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law
  5. Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?
  6. Romania most keen to join eurozone
  7. Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office
  8. Sweden's gang and gun violence sets politicians bickering

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us