November 14, 2014 1:14 pm
This week has been marked by the decision of the EU Court rules against “welfare tourism”. This particular expression, currently filling the newspapers, reflects the concern that individuals may abuse the right to free movement inside the European Union in order to benefit from a more favourable welfare system. Since one of the principles of the EU is the entitlement of citizens to reside in a different Member State than their original one, the effect on the host’s social system needs to be considered. On the 22nd October, the debate roused in the European Parliament about the benefits and challenges of the freedom of movement and if the number of resident Europeans living permanently in another Member State could cause damage or not. In the end, it was clarified that there is a need to have a consistent migration policy but the migrants are not to blame for the negative occurrences in the host country. It is important to remember that even though the free movement of people is a legal framework without mobility restrictions and includes the right of residence and equality in the work environment. However, it does not include the free access to the social entitlements of the Member States.
This particular, sensitive issue has been a hot topic after hard austerity policies and recession.The arrangements related to citizens of Bulgaria and Romania can also be taken into account. These two countries joined the EU in 2007 as the poorest countries in the EU. Since there was a fear of a massive migration movement and a big impact on the labour market, some transitional restrictions were implemented. The most important one was the free movement control for a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years, ruled by the EU. On the 1st January 2014, the restrictions were dropped, bringing the Bulgarian and the Romanian citizens to be on an equal footing with the rest of the other Member States’ citizens.
Anti-immigration movements and groups have been more active, driven by “welfare tourism” to support campaigns against immigration, not making a difference between contributors and non-contributors. Furthermore, there is a need to restrain benefits for those who are not looking for employment, at the same time that a balance is needed to respect the freedom of movement. It’s the responsibility of each government to adopt the necessary measures and legislation to prevent the non-contributory migrants from benefiting from the state’s social assistance.
For this reason, we chose welfare as the IATE term of the week. There are several opinions on the subject and the it is brings up the complex topic of stereotyping. With the rise of extreme right parties in Europe, it becomes clear that anti-migration campaigns and ideologies don’t make distinctions between migrant groups. The radicalism is becoming not only a political issue but also a social one with effects that cause an environment of insecurity and fear in European societies. It is important to underline that law-breaking is something that has always been present in democratic systems, by nationals as well as non-nationals, and it is to be dealt with without blaming a specific group. The “welfare tourism” is being used has a distraction from the real problem, the economic crisis.
What are your thoughts on this issue?
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by Andreia Nuno
Graduate from the New University (Portugal), Degree in Modern Languages, Literature and Cultures, English and Portuguese Studies (PT, EN), Master in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts (EN, FR)
Terminology trainee at the Terminology Coordination of the European Parliament
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