Muslim Immigrants Draining European Social Benefits*

By Leslie Lebl
Friday, March 27th, 2015 @ 8:17PM

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Left: European Muslims – The more wives the more benefits

An estimated 40% of Muslim youth in France and 50% in Germany are unemployed but far from destitute. Rather, they receive a wide range of social benefits. [2] For example, an estimated 40% of welfare outlays in Denmark go to the 5% of the population that is Muslim. [3] According to Otto Schily, former German interior minister, speaking of immigrants in general: “Seventy percent of the newcomers [since 2002] land on welfare the day of their arrival.” [4] In Sweden, perhaps the most acute case, immigrants are estimated at 1.5 million out of 10 million people; immigration is estimated to cost almost $14 billion per year. [5]

These high levels of welfare are accompanied by high levels of unemployment. Nor has this situation improved; rather, it is deteriorating. According to analyst Christopher Caldwell: “In the early 1970s, 2 million of the 3 million foreigners in Germany were in the labor force; by the turn of this century, 2 million of 7.5 million were.” [6]  Similar stories abound in other West European countries.

Large numbers of people may be receiving unemployment, but that is not their only form of income. The money for the designer sneakers sported by idle youth comes, in fact, from drug deals and fenced goods as well as from welfare payments. But the symbolism of welfare payments affects not only disgruntled taxpayers but also the youth themselves. Some Muslims interpret the payment of social benefits as a form of jiziya, the poll tax traditionally paid in Islamic societies by non-Muslim peoples as a sign of their submission to Islamic rule. In other words, not only are the social benefits interpreted as a right due to Muslim recipients, but they reflect the higher, dominant position of the latter which is embedded in sharia. [7] In fact, a minority consider draining the government’s coffers to be a contribution to jihad. [8]

Nor are such payments restricted to the relatively disadvantaged. European governments have begun to move against prominent individuals engaged in advancing the Islamist cause – yet even those individuals continue to receive their social benefits. For example, prominent Islamist imams like Abu Qatada collect social benefits from the UK government while fighting deportation. [9] And when Belgian authorities finally arrested internet jihadist Malika El Aroud, she was still getting $1,100 per month in unemployment benefits. [10] The family of “Jihadi John,” the university-educated British ISIS member famed for his beheadings of Western hostages, received benefits for over 20 years. [11]

The preference for universalizing what the EU offers to all residents, regardless of nationality, also shapes how EU central institutions have dealt with the issue of social benefits extended to immigrants. The topic has been more obscure, as for decades it has advanced primarily through cases decided by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The CJEU is the least noted but perhaps the most important force promoting the EU ever since its 1964 decision that EC law must take primacy over national law. [12] (The EC was the EU’s predecessor organization.) The CJEU moves cautiously to avoid arousing the opposition of national governments, but it too is dedicated to advancing the cause of European integration. As a group of scholars has put it: “court cases which might make the issue salient to the public will take time to work their way through the European judicial system. This time lag has been identified as a key causal mechanism by which the European Union gains ‘creeping sovereignty’ under the radar of oblivious national governments.” [13]

The CJEU based its efforts on a treaty provision requiring that men and women receive “equal pay for equal work.” [14] In its jurisprudence, the CJEU was doing more than simply ensuring that foreigners received fair and equitable treatment; it was in fact watering down the distinctions between them and EU citizens. According to EU scholar Joanna Apap:

“The CJEU, in seeing allegiance to the state and a corresponding reciprocity of rights and duties as the foundation of nationality, has been able to penetrate the wall of nationality and identify a special relationship of allegiance and reciprocity to define what is the limit in respect to which nationality, as a condition of access to rights is acceptable.” [15]

Thus, the CJEU, like the Commission, has sought for years to blur the distinction between EU citizens and foreigners, working diligently to expand the social benefits that today underpin Muslim ghettoes and “lawless zones.”

While stealth may have its bureaucratic advantages, it also has its drawbacks, most prominently its contribution to the EU’s much-discussed democratic deficit. The perception of generous social benefits paid to individuals who clearly do not feel they owe anything to the country in question fuels resentment and opposition to these payments. While national governments also bear responsibility for this situation, EU support for these benefits, when coupled with arguments in favor of further Muslim immigration to support ageing ethnic European populations, puts EU policy directly at odds with much of European public opinion.

Nor is this situation likely to change. Article 153(g) of the Lisbon Treaty, which entered into force in 2009, gives the EU a role in determining the “conditions of employment for third-country nationals legally residing in Union territory.” In addition, Article 34 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which entered into force along with the Lisbon Treaty, states that foreigners legally residing within the European Union are “entitled to social security benefits and social advantages in accordance with Union law and national laws and practices.” [16] Those legal parameters will likely encourage the EU to continue to focus on expanding these benefits.

And, if necessary, the Commission will obfuscate. European Commissioner Malmström, responding to a question from the European Parliament, [17] sought to refute the charge that Muslim immigrants were a burden rather than a benefit to EU economies. [18] To do so, she cited a report stating that, in the aggregate, migrants improved the demographic balance of younger versus older people, and boosted the EU’s GDP. To the degree that they received higher social benefits, this was correlated with their greater likelihood of living in poverty. Therefore, the authors of the report concluded:

“While the popular debate might suggest that the ‘policy failure’ in this area arises from excessive welfare spending on migrants, these results suggest that any policy failure relates to a failure to achieve objectives under the active inclusion agenda.” [19]

Unfortunately, this did not answer the question asked. This report fails to address the specific problem, perceived by many European voters, of separatist Muslims exploiting the system. Instead, it includes all migrants, including citizens from other EU countries. Further, its data cover countries like the Czech Republic and Poland, which have seen relatively few immigrant inflows from Muslim countries; rather, they have been the source of outflows to other EU countries. Nor have those intra-EU migrants been perceived in the same light. The infamous Polish plumber was accused of taking away the jobs of French plumbers, not with living off state subsidies. This study is simply not relevant, as Ms. Malmström surely knew.

Not only was the Commission rejecting the idea that immigrants receive more than their fair share of social benefits (whatever that is), and blaming discrimination by ethnic Europeans for any problems that do exist, but its argument is consistent with its view that increased inflows of Muslim immigrants in future years are desirable and indeed necessary. These immigrants are to be the workers who will help to provide the social payments for an ageing and declining indigenous European population – despite the fact that many young males descended from immigrants from those countries are currently unemployed and thus are the recipients, rather than the providers, of social payments.


[1] Some EU funding is also available.  For example, in 2006, the EU created a European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals, to cover the period 2007-2013.  See

[2] “French Lessons:  How to Create an Underclass,” Wall Street Journal, Nov. 11, 2005, and Peter Schneider, ibid.

[3] Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within (New York, Doubleday, 2006), p. 30.

[4] Quoted in Peter Schneider, “The New Berlin Wall.”  New York Times, Dec. 4, 2005.

[5] According to the Migration Policy Institute, in mid-2013 there were an estimated 1.5 million immigrants in Sweden in total. It is not known how many of these were Muslims. For the cost, see Ingrid Carlqvist and Lars Hedegaard, “Sweden: From ‘Humanitarian Superpower’ to Failed State.” The Gatestone Institute, Jan. 16, 2015.

[6] Christopher Caldwell, “Immigration and Islam: Europe’s Crisis of Faith.” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 17, 2015.

[7] Bruce Bawer, While Europe Slept, p. 30.

[8] Melanie Hall, “Muslim preacher urges followers to claim ‘Jihad Seeker’s Allowance.’” The Telegraph, Feb. 17, 2013.

[9] See Simon Hughes, “Fury at Abu Qatada hold-up.” The Sun, Nov. 14, 2008, at, for his ongoing saga.

[10] See “Belgian police arrest ‘Al Qaeda legend.” CNN, Dec. 11, 2008, and “Belgium:  ‘Internet jihadist’ nabbed in raids on al-Qaeda suspects.”  Jihad Watch blog, Jul. 13, 2008.

[11] James Slack, Paul Bentley and Sam Marsden, “Jihadi John family’s 20 years on benefits.” The Daily Mail, Mar. 3, 2015. Australian media reported in early 2015 that 55 of 57 Australians who left the country before October 214 to fight with the Islamic State were receiving welfare payments. See Simon Benson, “Aussie jihadists were on the dole.” The Daily Telegraph, Feb. 21, 2015. One can only wonder what comparable European statistics might reveal.

[12] Flaminio Costa v. ENEL, EUR/LEX, Judgment of 15.7.1964, Case 6-64.  See discussion of this and subsequent cases reinforcing CJEU authority in Alec Stone Sweet and James A. Caporaso, “From Free Trade to Supranational Polity: The European Court and Integration,” in Wayne Sandholtz and Alec Stone Sweet, eds., European Integration and Supranational Governance (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 1998.

[13] Adam Luedtke and Carrie Humphreys, Terri E. Givens and Rhonda Evans Case, “Introduction: Regulating the New Face of Europe,” in Adam Luedtke, ed., Migrants and Minorities: the European Response (Newcastle upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010), p. 26.

[14] Article 119 of the original European Economic Community Treaty, now Article 157 of the Lisbon Treaty. The Court based its work on subsequent legislation, the Equal Pay Directive, the Equal Treatment Directive, and the Social Security Directive.

[15] Joanna Apap, The Rights of Immigrant Workers, p. 134.

[16] “Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union”, Official Journal of the European Union, 2010C/83-02, C 83/389-403, Mar. 30, 2010, p. C83/398.

[17] Mara Bizzotto, “Subject: Cost of Muslim immigration to EU citizens.” European Parliament, E-009549-13, dated Aug. 12, 2013.

[18] “Answer given by Ms Malmström on behalf of the Commission.” European Parliament, E-009549/2013, Oct. 24, 2013.

[19] “Study on Active Inclusion of Migrants: Final Report,” by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) and The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), contract reference no. VC/2009/0009, Sep. 19, 2011, p. xiii.

*This is excerpted from a chapter in her upcoming book, A Veil over Europe: the European Union, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.


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