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EU Commission. Photo supplied

AfD wants to cut German-level child benefits to poorer EU countries

The AfD is the only party in the German parliament asking questions about how money from German taxpayers is wasted on outrageous transfers to poor countries.

Published: January 16, 2019, 8:04 am

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    The party has demanded an adjustment of social benefits for children residing in other EU countries to mirror the local living costs. Since 2012, such benefits for the 252 000 children have increased more than five-fold to 402 million euros.

    If the AfD introduces its announced bill on Thursday in the Bundestag, it will be the second push to clean up unfair and outdated social security regulations. In the first attempt, the AfD failed on 18 October 2018, when 548 deputies of the narrow-minded political united front rejected the AFD demand.

    The current EU law states that entitlements to family benefits also applies to family members living in other EU member states. EU citizens residing in Germany would therefore also receive child allowances equal to those for their children living in another EU country, as would be the case for children living in Germany, “although the cost of living in other countries is often much lower than in Germany”, the party argued.

    This leads to imbalances and “there is an incentive to immigrate into our social system because German child benefit payments in low-wage member states can be a significant source of income”.

    Since 2010, annual transfers to foreign accounts have increased almost tenfold to 343 million euros. The annual savings potential of an adapted scheme should be between 150 and 200 million euros.

    In fact, the transfer payments to child allowances abroad have risen sharply in recent years, even more so than estimated in autumn 2018 by the AfD. In 2012, such child allowance stood at 75 million. The money went mainly to Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic.

    During the 2018 election campaign, the CSU presented a motion the Federal Council to adjust the amount to the cost of living in the country in which the child lives. As expected, the responsible finance committee turned down the motion and postponed the issue indefinitely.

    Austria, on the other hand, introduced the adjustment of the child allowances to the local cost of living on 1 January 2019. The EU Commission has objected, according to German daily Die Welt, and the country is likely to face infringement proceedings soon.

    Instead of following in the footsteps of Austria, the German government is hiding behind the rejection of the EU Commission in Brussels. Efforts are being made to reach an agreement at European level, the Merkel government maintains.

    But child-benefit “recipient countries” may not be very interested in giving up additional benefits for their citizens and force Brussels to vote down the issue. For the AfD it is clear however: “What is going on in Austria must be possible in Germany,” AfD MP René Springer said in response.

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