Welfare-Drain Concerns Justify Germany's Action

     (CN) - Germany should be allowed to bar immigrants who only came into the country for its liberal public-assistance benefits, an adviser to the EU high court held Tuesday.
     A "basic provision" order that German law provides to unemployed people covers basic subsistence, housing and heating needs. But the law also prohibits people who came to Germany solely for those benefits from receiving the basic provision package.
     A Romanian national applied for public assistance after living in Germany for years with one of her sisters. Finding that the woman had no professional skills, had never worked in Germany and was not looking for work, authorities in Leipzig denied her application.
     The woman appealed her case to the social court in Leipzig, which asked the European Court of Justice whether the exclusion meshed with EU social assistance and immigration laws.
     In an advisory opinion for the EU high court - which was not made available in English - Advocate General Melchior Wathelet found that member states are free to restrict public assistance to immigrants who lack ties to the country and may become a drain on the social-assistance system.
     Wathelet noted that EU law allows European citizens to remain in another member state for up to three months as long as they do not burden that state's resources. Longer stays require proof that they have enough money to sustain themselves - a point that justifies Germany's exclusion, the adviser found.
     The exclusion also underscores the intent of EU lawmakers that citizens who exercise their right to free movement should also integrate themselves into the society of the member state they choose. And the German provision also cuts down on abuse and "benefit tourism," Wathelet said.
     The adviser's opinion is not binding on the Court of Justice, which has begun its own deliberations in the case.