The Netherlands is exaggerating the level of ‘social benefit tourism’, according to EU home affairs commissioner Cecelia Malmstrom.
‘Many of these concerns are exaggerated,’ Malmstrom is quoted as saying by Nos television.
Earlier this year, junior justice minister Fred Teeven claimed other EU citizens are often claiming benefits without ever working in the Netherlands. In 2011, some 4,000 EU citizens were claiming benefits, the Nos said.
The Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Britain then contacted Brussels urging it to take action.
Speaking after a meeting with officials on Tuesday, European justice minister Viviane Reding, said the number of EU citizens claiming benefits in the Netherlands is ‘remarkably low’ at around 1.5%. In Germany the figure is higher but still below 4%.
After the meeting, Teeven told reporters that while the European average may not be high ‘that does not mean it cannot be a problem in some countries or cities.’
‘And the most stupid thing you can do, and I am not saying the commission is doing this, is ignore the problem,’ he said.