Brussels published on Monday a new guide on social benefits for EU migrants, amid a fierce debate on immigration across Europe.
The guide aims to clarify the worker’s place of residence and therefore, which country is responsible for providing social welfare.
It comes at a a time when countries like the UK are trying to reduce the social benefits EU migrants can claim. With the European elections in sight, fears of what some already call ‘benefit tourism’ are spreading across the continent.
But the Commission argues that there is no ‘proof’ of such situations and insists that ‘freedom of movement’ is one of the pillars of the European Union.
“Workers from other EU countries pay more in tax and social security into host countries public budgets than they receive in benefits. The more workers from other EU countries an EU country has, the more solvent its welfare system is.” said EU Employment commissioner László Andor. Family status, income sources or tax contribution are some of the elements that will be taken into account to determine which member state must be the welfare provider.
The debate has also been fuelled this month by the lifting of an EU ban that prevented Romanian and Bulgarian citizens to move and work freely across Europe.
But Andor’s remarks echoed those of his counterpart, EU Justice Commissioner Vivianne Reding, who recently said that freedom of movement within the EU is ‘non-negotiable’.
“The Commission does all it can to continuing removing barriers to make it easier for people to work in other EU countries and to do it in decent conditions., It is necessary to have clear safeguards in EU law to prevent people from abusing social welfare systems of other EU countries.” said the bloc’s employment commissioner Laszlo Andor.
Under EU law, there can only be one place of residence and so only one Member State responsible for paying social security benefits.