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Europe

Sweden: Enlargement Doesn't Lead to 'Social Tourism'

A new report shows there is no flood of people entering Sweden to take advantage of the country's generous welfare benefits.

The enlargement of the EU has to date caused no visible extra strain on the Swedish social security system. "Our statistics from May and June indicate that we are dealing with very small sums. There is no sign of what has been labeled 'social tourism,'" Anders Lönnqvist of the National Social Insurance Board told the daily Svenska Dagbladet. The family of any EU citizen working in Sweden, even if living in another EU country, has the right to draw on the Swedish social welfare program. After enlargement on May 1, citizens from the ten new EU member states gained the same right to draw on Swedish social benefits. Following lengthy debate in April, a majority in the Swedish Parliament turned down a proposal from the ruling Social Democrat Party to limit migrant workers from the new EU member states. The vote was seen as a major defeat for Prime Minister Göran Persson, a Social Democrat. His government had proposed only those with a guaranteed full time job at a fair salary and somewhere to live would be given a work permit. ( EUobserver.com)

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