Friday, January 10, 2014

Germany: Guest-Visitors Instead of Guest-Workers?

The following situation-in-process should be watched by Greeks as it develops:

EU-citizens who move to Germany, without a job, are entitled to German child support provided they can show an official residence in Germany. The question is whether they are also entitled to Hartz-IV, the German welfare benefits system. According to German law, they are not entitled. It is unclear, however, whether German law is in compliance with EU law in this matter. Thus, a German court has now brought the matter before the EU Court of Justice. A ruling is pending. For some unknown reason, the EU Commission felt compelled to express its opinion on the matter before the Court's ruling. Its opinion is that EU citizens, even without a job, should be entitled to Hartz-IV.

No one is likely to get rich through Hartz-IV. The monthly basic benefit is EUR 391 per person. However, that benefit is multiplied by household members and, of course, there is the additional child support. Furthermore, there is the possibility of one-off benefits, for example to establish a household, etc. There have been stories that some families received up to EUR 3.000 per month after exploiting all Hartz-4 features (I recommend to take this figure with a lot of doubt).

It is easy to imagine that a, say, Bulgarian family of 4 whose benefits total, say, EUR 1.500 per month are better off in Germany than in Bulgaria. Not to mention the fact that, once in Germany, they also have access to all German public services like education, etc. And they might even find a good job...

For a Greek family in dire straits, this could be more interesting than for anyone else because there are several cities in Germany with a significant Greek diaspora. That's why I recommend watching this situation-in-process.


  1. Is it not the case that under EU legislation for a person to claim benefits they need to have been registered in the country for five years?

    I will add that for any Greeks willing to brave the wet weather, Britain (the UK) has no registration system. This means that the government cannot determine if someone has been resident for five years or not - and therefore must pay any EU citizen benefits upon arrival.

    In the light of this, I would suggest the German government prints brochures to this effect in Greek, Bulgarian, Romanian, etc. They can display these at benefit offices in Germany.

  2. You've got to be kidding when you suggest that the German government should advertise possible social benefits for unemployed EU migrants! The CSU is already up in arms and is predicting the downfall of Germany if it comes to 'social welfare tourism'.

  3. According to the below article, an expertise commissioned by the German Family Ministry states that foreign EU-citizens with a residency in Germany are entitled to child support even if the children are back in their home country.

    Well, an unemployed Greek father of many children might want to consider asking a friend who lives in Germany whether he could live with him for a while and, thereyby, establish a German residency.

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