Politics & Policies

Immigration and Welfare in Europe / Does it really foster integration ?

As part of the 28-nation European Union, Polish citizens have most of the same welfare rights here as Britons, under a European Union policy designed to foster European integration and create a vibrant economic market with mobile workers.

Instead, it seems to be driving Europeans apart.

At a time when some governments’ austerity policies have led to deep spending cuts, Europe’s ill-tempered debate over immigration has become intertwined with an equally thorny discussion of the costs of welfare, especially after Romanians and Bulgarians gained full access across European labor markets this year.

Benefits in Britain may be higher than in former Communist countries now part of the European Union, but they are not especially generous by Western European standards. Yet access to them is relatively easy, for workers as well as the jobless, and, unlike in some European countries, they are not usually based on claimants’ previous social security contributions.

“In Britain in particular this is creating a toxic situation,” said Mats Persson, the director of Open Europe, a research group in London, “combining worries about immigration, the European Union and welfare benefits with a general mistrust of politicians in charge of the system.”

The political poison has been spreading. When Prime Minister David Cameron suggested changes to welfare rules last year that would make it harder for some immigrants to receive benefits, Laszlo Andor, the European commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, said Britain risked being seen “as a kind of nasty country in the European Union.”

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at 


via A Harder Look at Welfare Rules as Europeans Flood Countries in Search of Jobs – NYTimes.com.

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