22nd Mar 2018

German government to curb 'welfare tourism'

  • The German government earmarks €200 million to help municipalities with high influxes of social cases (Photo: Images_of_Money)

A special panel set up to look at welfare abuse in Germany has proposed tightening the rules and only giving child support to people with a German tax number.

The findings of the special report are to be adopted by the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday (26 March).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The panel was set up earlier this year with senior officials from almost all German ministries.

It came in response to demands by Merkel's Bavarian sister party, the CSU, that a tougher stance be taken on ‘welfare tourism’.

A draft seen by Reuters and Spiegel recommends limiting job-seekers' stay to three months if they don't find work, expelling those who commit benefit fraud and blocking their return for a certain period of time, "as long as it is in line with EU law."

Child allowances should also be given only to EU citizens who are registered taxpayers in Germany, the draft reads.

Municipalities with high numbers of people needing social welfare are to be granted extra help to the tune of €200 million.

Meanwhile, police and employment offices should crack down on firms who use unregistered workers, the report recommends.

Late last year the mayors of 16 cities made a public plea for help in coping with migrants from Eastern Europe, notably Roma from Romania and Bulgaria, who are accused of putting a strain on local welfare schemes.

Interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said the focus should be on those who exploit unskilled migrants.

"We have to look at the people and structures who bring migrants and exploit them for their own petty interests," he told the Rheinischer Post.

He said it cannot be that people who speak no word of German show up to the local benefits offices with perfectly filled-in forms and demand child support or a permit to set up a business.

The Green and leftist opposition has criticised the report as illegal and targeting the wrong people.

"In a free and democratic Europe, people cannot be imposed limits on how long they can seek for a job or stay in another EU country. Bans on re-entry in a country are also illegal," said Volker Beck, the home affairs expert of the German Greens.

Sahra Wagenknecht from Die Linke, the largest opposition party in Germany, said "poverty does not decrease by fighting the poor."

The Bavarian CSU has come under criticism for its populist campaign against "social tourism". Critics note that the numbers of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens who asked for German child support are low: 3,393 Romanians and 957 Bulgarians, out of a total of 14.4 million people who benefit from child support.

A hearing in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Tuesday will shed more light on whether denying child support to Romanians is in line with EU law.

The plaintiff, a young Romanian mother, was denied unemployment benefits by the local authorities in Leipzig because she failed to get a job.

She has neither a higher education nor professional training and has lived with her son in Germany since 2010.

A court in Leipzig found the decision in line with German law, but asked the ECJ to examine whether the ruling was also in line with EU law.


Some solutions for the EU social benefits debate

Concern about EU migration was a direct reason for eurosceptic voting in several countries last month. But this is an area with ample room for constructive political problem-solving.

EU takes step closer to 'posted workers' deal

Negotiators from the member states, EU Parliament and Commission reached a 'common understanding' to guarantee equal pay for equal work in the EU. They hope to reach a final agreement in June.


EU court bars tests for gay asylum seekers

Authorities in EU countries can no longer impose controversial psychological tests to determine whether an aslyum seeker is telling the truth about their homosexuality.

News in Brief

  1. Brussels condemns tear gas in Kosovo parliament
  2. Finland pays billionaire €400,000 in EU farm subsidies
  3. 44 leaders sign up for Africa free trade area deal
  4. British 'blue' passports to be made in EU
  5. EU to have 'immediate' trade talks with Trump
  6. Separatist activist renounces Catalonia leadership candidacy
  7. EU puts conditions on Bayer-Monsanto merger
  8. Hard Brexit would hit poorer Irish households hardest

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. EU leaders set for 'stormy debate' on digital tax at summit
  2. EU praises Turkey on migrant deal despite Greek misery
  3. Judicial reforms 'restore balance', Poland tells EU
  4. Whistleblower fears for life as US arrests Malta bank chair
  5. Behind the scenes at Monday's EU talks on Russia
  6. US yet to push on Nord Stream 2 sanctions
  7. EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints
  8. Five east European states prevent new CAP consensus