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Germany: Merkel's first government crisis is over CSU's anti-immigrant rhetoric

Prague, 10.1.2014 1:05, (ROMEA)

Germany will be reviewing options for tightening its rules governing the provision of unemployment benefits and welfare. German television station ARD reported on Wednesday, 8 January that the government has decided it will create a special commission to review the matter. 

Tightening the conditions for providing such aid is primarily the aim of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), which is concerned that since the German labor market opened up to citizens of Bulgaria and Romania at the start of this year, there will be an increase in the number of immigrants abusing welfare. The transition period after Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union, which restricted the opportunities for their citizens to move to several EU Member States, including Germany, for work, expired at the start of 2014.

The CSU is concerned that Bulgarian and Romanian citizens will now begin to move to Germany en masse, which could lead to a great burden on the German social welfare system. The Bavarian party wants to tighten up the rules for drawing welfare, but its sister party, Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), as well as the Social Democratic Party (SPD), criticized that proposal. 

Ultimately the governing parties agreed to create a commission to investigate whether it is necessary to tighten the rules for providing unemployment benefits and welfare, and if so, to propose how. The Confederation of German Employers' Associations says the CSU's concerns over Bulgarian and Romanian citizens are unnecessary.

According to data from the Federal Labor Office, unemployment rates among citizens from those southeastern European countries now living in Germany are currently lower than the average unemployment rate for all EU citizens living in Germany. While 9.6 % of the Bulgarian and Romanian citizens living Germany are out of work, the unemployment rate is 16.3 % among all foreign citizens there.

The German Statistical Office published fresh numbers about the country's population on Wednesday, which has increased once more. Last year 400 000 people moved to Germany.

The most numerous immigrant groups are citizens of Poland and Russia. Economists believe Germany cannot do without immigrants if it wants to maintain its standard of living. 

Birth rates in the country are falling and youth are missing from the labor market. Reportedly our neighbors to the west of the Czech Republic lack as many as 4 000 doctors. 

The start-up of the new German coalition government has been complicated, and the Bavarian CSU is banking more and more on populist politics. It is true that immigrant ghettos are forming in some communities.

German immigration law is behind the formation of such ghettos. The law states that immigrants are not permitted to work until they receive a residence permit; they therefore become dependent on welfare in the interim.

Jana Baudyšová, ČTK, rozhlas.cz, tyden.cz, translated Gwendolyn Albert
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Tags:  

Angela Merkel, CSU, EU, Germany, Immigration, integration, Populism, Romania, Bulgaria, Ghetto, Unemployment



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