Debate over unequal child benefit
Anyone who works for three months in an EU country is entitled to receive child benefit for their children - regardless of where they live. In Germany the number of foreigners receiving child benefit has reached record levels, triggering political protest against "social migration" from Eastern Europe. Are payments for children outside the country unjust?
Combat welfare abuse
The intention to commit fraud is often a factor in the child benefit issue, public broadcaster Český rozhlas comments with annoyance:
“Germany now wants to substantially reduce the sum of 600 million euros that it pays for children living abroad - probably prompted by the example of Austria, which wants to limit social benefit tourism above all from Hungary and Slovakia. The Czechs should not hesitate to support their neighbour's initiative against abuse of the social welfare systems. If for no other reason then simply because you don't steal. If one of a child's parents moves from Eastern Europe to Germany because of child benefit, this can provoke hostile reactions and result in restrictions on freedom of movement in continental Europe.”
Equal treatment a cornerstone of the EU
Deutschlandfunk is on the EU Commission's side in this dispute:
“For years the Commission has blocked states from differentiating depending on the child's country of residence, even though Germany has constantly complained and Austria is now going it alone. This is not just pure EU formalism. Equal treatment for all employees is a cornerstone of the European freedoms. And it must not be given up when, as in this case, the economic gaps in Europe become particularly obvious. Abuse must be combatted even if it means tougher controls than we've had until now. But this is not an issue for envious debates.”