GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer, member of the Committee for Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL), has commented on the proposal from Commissioner Thyssen to revise the coordination of social security systems between EU member states:

“The proposal will make it easier for member states to exclude the poorest of the poor from social protection just because they emigrated from another EU country. This may leave people destitute.”

“We oppose social exclusion by EU regulation. Only a social union that safeguards the right to free movement for everybody will secure social peace.”

“In effect, the Commission’s proposal gives in to the far-right and misses an opportunity for a European answer to a social problem, instead of exacerbating social conflicts,” Zimmer warned.

“Does the Commission want to see people begging on the streets? This regulation can have an adverse impact on minorities such as the Roma.”

Danish MEP Rina Ronja Kari was apprehensive about the excessive detail in the revision that would add constraints on member states which are not necessarily progressive:

”The EU wants to dictate on a very detailed level how individual member states manage their social welfare systems. This is both the case with child support and with unemployment benefit.”

“If EU citizens disagree with these policies, they have no way of altering them by voting for a new parliament. This represents a major democratic problem.”

Kari stressed that the proposal may in fact leave space for workers to be exploited:

“We have seen in previous cases that certain companies have included child benefits – which are paid by the state – into the calculation of the salaries in order to lower the wages of workers from other member states. The same could very well be the case with unemployment benefits.”

“I do not in any way wish to criticize the workers who seek the best opportunities for themselves and their families. However, I would warn against the application of rules that will lower salaries and other standards of the EU labour market and thereby lead to a race to the bottom,” the Danish MEP concluded.

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