In a heated debate on alleged mass abuse of welfare systems, the interior ministers of Austria, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands have called on the European Commission to crack down on EU migrants, with sanctions including expelling or banning them from re-entering the country.
Hannes Swoboda, president of the S&D Group, condemned their sensationalist polemic:
"Socially motivated migration is a reality in Europe and all countries – including Austria, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands – benefit from today's mobile and flexible European workforce. The posturing from these ministers does nothing to address the issue of strained welfare systems but only adds fuel to the fire of prejudice and populism.
"Combating poverty and unemployment in EU countries is the only solution to eradicate socially motivated migration and governments across the EU should work together with the European Commission to achieve this. In order to fight unemployment, we need above all strong investment in new jobs and growth, and therefore a strong European budget."
Hannes Swoboda continued by addressing the growing north-south divide in Europe:
"Europe's crisis has already taken a painful toll on many people's lives. We cannot afford to divide the European Union into north vs south or east vs west. Instead of different immigration rules or different interest rates – as Angela Merkel now suggests – we need to find a framework that is viable for all countries, economically and socially, for monetary policy and free movement. We must not settle for the lowest common denominator every time."