Saturday

10th Dec 2016

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Focus

Anti-HIV measures failing in EU, says WHO

Rates of infection have stayed constant for a decade in the EU, though there has been a massive surge in Russia apparently caused by drug users sharing needles.

News in Brief

  1. Council of Europe critical of Turkey emergency laws
  2. Italian opposition presses for anti-euro referendum
  3. Danish MP wants warning shots fired to deter migrants
  4. Defected Turkish officers to remain in Greece
  5. Most child asylum seekers are adults, says Denmark
  6. No school for children of 'illegal' migrants, says Le Pen
  7. Ombudsman slams EU Commission on tobacco lobbying
  8. McDonald's moves fiscal HQ to UK following tax probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Use Bioenergy Coming From Forests in a Sustainable Way?
  2. Counter BalanceReport Reveals Corrupt but Legal Practices in Development Finance
  3. Swedish EnterprisesMEPs and Business Representatives Debated on the Future of the EU at the Winter Mingle
  4. ACCASets Out Fifty Key Factors in the Public Sector Accountants Need to Prepare for
  5. UNICEFSchool “as Vital as Food and Medicine” for Children Caught up in Conflict
  6. European Jewish CongressEJC President Breathes Sigh of Relief Over Result of Austrian Presidential Election
  7. CESICongress Re-elects Klaus Heeger & Romain Wolff as Secretary General & President
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAustrian Association for Betting and Gambling Joins EGBA
  9. ACCAWomen of Europe Awards: Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  10. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  11. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  12. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First