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CDU's Kauder slams European Commission in migrant debate

A leading politician from Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU has criticized reported proposals from the EU's executive to give some unemployed immigrants benefits. He called the idea 'completely inacceptable."

The chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Volker Kauder (photo above), told the mass-circulation Bild newspaper's Saturday edition that the

Commission's reported proposals

could result in an unwanted flood of welfare-seeking immigrants to Germany.

"If its (the European Commission's) views prevailed, there would probably be a considerable influx of people coming to Germany just because of the Hartz IV (social welfare) payments," he said.

"The European Commission seems once more not to have really considered the consequences of its attitude," he added.

The leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), also criticized the Commission's alleged proposals.

"Things like this damage support for the European idea," Horst Seehofer told the DPA news agency.

"The Commission often acts without really understanding everyday realities," Seehofer added.

EU law 'sufficient'

On Friday, a report in the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung said the European Commission had called on Germany not to generally exclude jobless migrants from other parts of the EU from receiving social welfare payments, but instead to assess each case individually. The Commission was commenting on a case currently before the European Court of Justice, the paper said.

A spokesperson for the European Commission on Friday however

denied that it was trying to influence Germany's migration policies

and said that EU law already prevented EU migrants from abusing the social welfare systems of host countries.

For the past few weeks, Germany's new ruling coalition has been mired in an immigration debate triggered by the granting of increased freedom of movement to people from the two least wealthy EU countries, Romania and Bulgaria, on January 1.

The CSU has raised the spectre of what it calls "poverty immigration," claiming that many immigrants from these two countries could falsely claim social benefits, and calling for tougher laws.

Current EU law allows EU citizens to seek work in another country within the bloc for 90 days. During this time, they are not allowed to claim welfare. If they fail to find work in that time, they must return to their home countries.

The CSU wants to have any EU migrants found to have claimed social welfare during the 90-day period sent home immediately.

Chancellor Merkel earlier this week established a

committee to look into whether Germany's regulations designed to prevent abuse of the social welfare system were sufficient

and if not, to make recommendations on how to tighten them up.

tj/pfd (KNA, epd, dpa)

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