The chief executive of German Towns and Municipalities, Gerd Landsberg, said a Federal Court ruling that allows EU citizens to claim social assistance after a short stay is bleeding the system.
"The world has dropped on us an enormous cost avalanche. For the local authorities this jurisprudence has dramatic consequences."
The Federal Social Court ruled that EU migrants may receive social assistance in Germany after no more than six months. In Germany, the social assistance is higher than a conventional industrial worker’s wage in the poorest EU states.
UK finds Germany, NL etc want to block immigrants from benefits too. But may not be enuf to stop Brexit https://t.co/ZxcNPLuzLh— Matt Steinglass (@mattsteinglass) January 18, 2016
The row comes as the federal states are already crumbling under the burden of financing temporary shelters for refugees, which they say has pushed the civil service to the point of collapse.
Administrators in Germany’s federal states are struggling to keep up with the registration and deportation process because of decades of cuts to its civil service, which has left the system unable to cope with the influx of over a million refugees.
The latest row over social benefits for EU citizens mirrors the case UK Prime Minister David Cameron is making for a renegotiation of Britain’s membership of the EU. He is calling for in-work benefits to be denied EU citizens working in Britain until they had lived in the UK for four years.
This has been met with resistance from many EU states. However, the outcry from the German states – and their warning of social collapse – could play into Cameron’s hands when he comes to negotiate what he hopes are the final points at the EU summit in February.
Germany last year moved to tighten up its welfare legislation in an effort to prevent benefit abuse. At the time, German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters:
"Freedom of movement is an indispensable element of European integration, which we fully support. But we must not close our eyes to the problems linked to it."