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Europe, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, unemployment

Germany shows solidarity with struggling southern neighbours

The same day the European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi delivered his bombshell declaration that the European welfare state was no more, the Continent’s Great Power, Germany issued orders to stop welfare payments to non-German nationals.

Whether coincidence or not, the move by the Federal Labour Agency on February 23 has helped put some flesh of Draghi’s statement.

Italians, Greeks, Spaniards and other Europeans who move to Germany – the largest and only economically healthy economy in the Eurozone – in search of a job will no longer be entitled to receive, from their first day of stay in the Federal Republic, the dole that was introduced with the reform “Hartz IV”.

According to a ruling issued in 2010 by the Bundessozialgericht , the German courts dealing with social issues, jobless who come from one of the 17 states that have ratified the 1953 European Convention on Social and Medical Assistance have the right to social benefits from day one under the Hartz IV reforms.

The natives of the countries that have not signed the Convention, such as Austria, are excluded.

In the future EU citizens will have to wait 3 months before getting unemployment benefits in Germany.

Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert has said saying this was about preventing ‘abuse’ of the benefits system and that it was wrong to interpret this move as a ‘political message.’

But how else can it be seen? The number of EU nationals who on their arrival in Germany have applied for unemployment benefits is close to zero, the social democrats’ deputy speaker to the Bundestag, Elke Ferner, told the Frankfurter Rundschau daily.

‘Greece, Spain and other southern European countries suffer huge youth unemployment, the majority of young people who do not want to come here to live at the level of unemployment. One has to wonder if this government has completely lost sight of the reality of young people,’ Berlin’s Social Democrat Mayor Klaus Wowereit added to the Rheinische Post. ‘The government’s positions is not serious.’

Nor is there, after the ruling of 2010, any flood of struggling welfare-cheating jobseekers from southern Europe, official figures show.

The number of Spanish or Greek immigrants in the Federal Republic in September 2011 is virtually identical to that recorded in the same month of 2010.

For the director of charity Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband, Ulrich Schneider, Berlin has sent a ‘fatal signal’

‘Evidently Germany is concerned that the policy of austerity imposed by her on Europe could result in the arrival of a wave of new poor.’

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope


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