December 29, 2015 / 5:11 PM / 3 years ago

German minister wants to limit benefits for foreigners from EU, newspaper reports

German Labour Minister Andrea Nahles attends a cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, June 3, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany should limit the social benefits foreigners from within the European Union are entitled to receive, German Labour Minister Andrea Nahles told a newspaper on Tuesday.

“There is clearly a need for legislative action. We need to spare the municipalities from having to provide for penniless foreigners from the EU in an unlimited way,” Andrea Nahles told the regional newspaper Rheinische Post, adding that the refugee crisis had given the states new tasks to tackle.

Germany’s federal states are planning to spend around 17 billion euros (12.6 billion pounds) on dealing with the refugee crisis in 2016, the newspaper Die Welt said on Tuesday.

Towns, municipalities and districts have to pay for social benefits in Germany. A single German social welfare recipient who lives alone is entitled to around 400 euros per month.

Germany’s Federal Social Court ruled in early December that foreigners from the EU were entitled to social welfare benefits after living in the country for six months.

Nahles said it was necessary to wait for the court to provide the reasons for that judgement and only after that could work start on a law to limit benefit payments to foreigners from the EU.

European Union states can restrict benefits to people from other EU countries unless they have worked for at least a year in their host nation, the EU’s top court said in September.

Germany recently signalled that it would back Britain in its bid to secure reforms in EU rules and procedures. Among the reforms Prime Minister David Cameron is seeking are changes in rules on social welfare, which would make EU migrant workers wait four years before claiming some benefits in Britain.

Reporting by Michelle Martin, editing by Larry King

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