German economist calls for curtailing of EU freedom of movement rights to stop Roma migration

A German economist has joined the voices calling for the end of free movement of EU citizens between Member States in the light of the expiration of transitional controls on Romania and Bulgaria. “It is high time to amend the EU Free Movement Directive,” wrote the president of the Ifo Institute at the University of Munich Hans-Werner Sinn, quoted by European news site EurActiv. However, unlike other recent calls, particularly from the UK, to strip away the rights of European peoples, Sinn specifically focused on Roma communities in his comments.

“These individuals are often Roma people – the same individuals who were driven out of France a few years ago by the then President Nicolas Sarkozy,” said Hans-Werner Sinn, quoted by EurActiv. The rounding up and deportation of Roma people from France that Sinn refers to was, and continues to be, roundly condemned by human rights groups.

Sinn claims that immigrants receive over EUR 1,000 in state support and contests the European Commission’s (EC) recent response to a letter from EU Ministers calling for measures to tackle so-called benefits tourism. The EC’s reply stated that it had no hard facts and figures from EU Member States that support the idea that benefits tourism exists, or if it does, at what level, according to EurActiv. The EU Ministers who raised the complaint did not provide any figures, appearing to rely on hearsay rather than facts.

Hans-Werner Sinn warns that Roma immigration will erode Germany’s welfare system, if nothing is done to stop free movement. However, he also accepts that Germany needs migrant workers to relieve labor shortages and paints skilled Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and Slovenians in a glowing light. Thus his problem seems to be specifically with people of Roma ethnicity, a position that appears to have the potential to draw criticism from groups such as Amnesty International and the European Roma Rights Center.

Sinn suggests a home-country welfare system for migrants under which EU citizens claim social support from their country of origin when living in another EU country.

Read the EurActiv article.