Monday

25th Mar 2019

EU to tighten rules on social benefits

  • Commissioner Thyssen said free movement of workers does not mean free access to welfare (Photo: European Commission)

The EU Commission proposed on Tuesday (13 December) tighter rules on social welfare for citizens receiving benefits in different member states.

The proposed changes would allow EU countries to require that a worker from another member state works for at least three months on its territory before previous experience in another member state is taken into consideration when claiming unemployment benefits.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“Free movement does not mean a right to free access to member states’ social assistance systems, “ EU labour commissioner Marianne Thyssen said in Strasbourg.

The Commission’s proposals attempt to counter the rise of anti-migrant sentiment across the continent and concerns over “welfare tourism”, an issue likely to feature in next year’s election campaigns in France and Germany.

Based on an earlier court ruling, the EU executive also proposed to allow member states to deny social benefits to economically inactive citizens who don’t have a job and are not looking for one. They can reside in an EU country only if they have health coverage.

Under the proposal, jobseekers would be allowed to export their unemployment benefits from the current period of minimum three months to at least six months.

The proposal however does not allow states to cut child benefits if the child lives in another country from the working parent. The country where the parent works remains responsible for paying the child benefit.

Earlier this year former UK prime minister David Cameron argued that many EU workers claim child benefits in the UK only to send it back to their home country where the child actually resides.

He negotiated a deal for such arrangements to be ruled out, but since the British voted the leave the bloc, the agreement is void.

Thyssen said the cost of administrating such changes to child benefits would outweigh the possible abuse.

According to the commission, less than 1 percent of child benefits in the EU are paid to children residing in an EU country other than where their parents work.

The European Parliament and national governments need to agree with the Commission’s proposal to come into force.

EU states that have many of their citizens working in other member states are expected to scrutinise the proposed changes closely.

EU commission to map gender recognition

The European Commission will start looking at how EU states determine genders - as part of an effort to make it easier for people to determine their own identities.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  2. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks
  3. Petition against Brexit attracts 2.4m signatures
  4. Study: Brexit to cost EU citizens up to €40bn annually
  5. NGOs demand France halt Saudi arm sales
  6. Report: Germany against EU net-zero emissions target
  7. Former top EU official takes job at law firm
  8. Draft text of EU summit has Brexit extension until 22 May

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  2. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  3. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  4. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  5. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines
  6. Slovakia puts squeeze on free press ahead of election
  7. EPP suspends Orban's Fidesz party
  8. Macron is confusing rigidity with strength

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us