EU to Fight “Benefit Tourism”

Written by | Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
M. Guillermo Guttierrez

The European Union is going to organize a conference of city mayors in February 2014 to tackle the issue of so –called “benefit tourism”. The term was invented to coin the abuse of the right of free movement granted to all EU citizens, such as moving to EU’s richer countries for the sake of social benefits, health services etc. Germany and Britain, the main destination countries, have long been complaining about this phenomenon, while the EU bodies have only now responded to concerns of “abuse, fraud, and error”.
The European Commission outlined yesterday several proposals to deal with the issue of the abuse of free movement. The Commission said that, according to its research, EU citizens “migrating” to other member states “are more likely to be economically active than nationals and less likely to claim social benefits.” Another study by the University College London (UCL) has shown that immigrants have contributed about 30 billion EUR more to the economy of the United Kingdom over the last decade than they have taken out in welfare payments.
Yet, one of the main proposals envisaged by the EU Commission is to monitor and coordinate social welfare rules across the Union. Moreover, social inclusion challenges are hoped to be taken care of, while cooperation amongst local authorities is promoted as well. All of these must however go in line with the on-ground application of the EU free movement policy.
This appeal comes in the pre-run to the May 2014 elections to the European Parliament. Domestic politicians as well as MEPs start to be facing first pre-election reproaches regarding the abuse of “benefit tourism” from most popular destination countries.

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