Advertisement / Customer service | About Us | Contact Us | Tell us what you think | Jobs | Shopping | Scandinavian Dating | Archive | Cookies

Scandinavia Today / Europe



As EU foreign ministers to meet to discuss benefit tourism, Sweden ask the question "what's the fuss?"

Monday, 03 June 2013
One of the areas where some EU countries have been vocal about has been the effects of benefit tourism. Sweden which has some how been quite about it or knows how to manage it is beginning to ask whether political populism is the force driving the fear that is really not there.

The EU mobility debate on benefit tourism has flared up again, with some states arguing that with the freedom of movement, EU citizens would seek other EU countries and try to take advantage of their generous welfare system. This refer to countries that are about to join the free movement, work and settle such as Romania and Bulgaria.

This issue has been put on the agenda in the meeting which the Swedish migration minister, Tobias Billström and his EU colleagues from the UK, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands are to meet in the week. On the agenda is benefit tourism, something Sweden does not see as vital for there don't seem to be a serious problem there. If it were a big deal, Sweden with a booming economy would have been attracting lots of Spanish, Portuguese, Greeks etc., which has very poor economies at this moment. However, the numbers coming here is not as large as one would have thought.

Tobias Billstrom has been vocal that he does not see the big deal about the whole benefit issue and questions how realistic the issue is. Speaking to Swedish news agency TT, Mr Billstrom said that "I think there is a scare mongering building into this as we from the Swedish government level do not see such," he says.

Swedish EU Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, who deals with these types of issues believe that there is a "smell of populism and domestic policy." She notes that the four countries' giving the warnings have not done so with the support from the European Commission's statistics.

She also reacts to the language used in addressing the issue. EU citizens have the right to travel, live, work and study wherever they want in the Union but they are treated as immigrants from outside the EU. For example, they are called  with the word "European immigrants," a concept that does not exist," said Malmstrom.

"They mix apples and pears very healthily. They confuse internal EU mobility and immigration. They list problems without giving a single figure, a single concrete example and want us to review the rules on free movement. Of course it is unthinkable that we should change the principle of freedom of movement," said Malmstrom.

Authorities believe that economic problems are the force fuelling the debate. When the countries of Eastern and Central Europe became members of the EU, it started a debate on social tourism, among others, the then Swedish Prime Minister, Göran Persson also threw himself into the debate.

When the concerns did not come to reality, the debate subsided, but recently it has gained momentum again. Economic crisis and the success of Euro sceptic and immigration critical political parties and movements in many areas have fuelled the fears of benefit tourists again.

Last week, Britain was sued to the European Court, as it was believed that it discriminated against EU citizens and made it hard for them to access social benefits than the British.

Britain is one of those countries where anti EU politics has grown and is bringing panic within the political establishment there.
by Team

What do you think about this article? Did you spot an error? Please make a comments and join our network

Print Friendly and PDF