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Konrad Werner: Stop pretending immigration is a big deal

Why do people keep going on about immigration?

Image for Konrad Werner: Stop pretending immigration is a big deal
European Court of Justice. Photo by Cédric Puisney (Wikimedia Commons)

Last week, centre-right politicians across the EU popped champagne and snorted lines of celebratory charlie to greet the European Court of Justice’s verdict that Germany was not, after all, obliged to give unemployed Romanians welfare benefits. They were mainly relieved not because they hate unemployed Romanians that much, even though they do a little bit, but because if the ECJ had ruled the other way, it would have been much harder for them to fend off the threat from their eurosceptic right-flank rival parties (UKIP, AfD, Front National, that demented Polish guy who doesn’t believe that rape is a real thing). Phew, Cameron and Merkel said to each other as they passed around the straw and the mirror, now we can at least say that the EU is against benefit scroungers too. So it’s okay.

The ECJ case was sparked by a Romanian single mum who had, the newspapers said, never worked in Germany and had never tried to find a job – because she had a baby. But the whole debate is a big lie. It’s mendacious. No one honestly thinks that Romanian women are that big of an economic problem – in any case, all the stats show that unemployed immigrants from inside the EU proportionally take less benefits than unemployed Germans, and on the whole, in the long-run, immigrants always contribute more to the state in taxes than they’re ever likely to take out in welfare. Then there are all the favourite tabloid stories of people cheating welfare – the reason why the tabloids always make a big deal of such stories is because they’re rare.

People should just admit that the reason they’re against benefit scroungers is because they think it’s immoral not to stay in your own country and get a job and work for a living. Even if you’re alone with a baby. That’s fine. It’s mean-spirited, but it’s a point of view based on ethics. But to argue that a few thousand Romanian women and asylum seekers taking a few hundred bucks a month from the Job Center is likely to ruin the German economy is obviously bollocks. Besides, if we’re looking for actual threats to the public treasury, there is a lot you can criticize about the European Union. For instance, the fact that the newly-elected president spent a quarter of a century turning his country into tax haven for millionaires and corporations. Jean-Claude Juncker helped those people and companies suck a lot more money out of your pocket than that Romanian woman and her kid.