Social tourism and de-coupling rights and obligations

Social tourism was not only the most debated issue in the European Parliamentary Elections in the Spring of 2014 but can also have a decisive impact on national social policy. The question is whether national welfare model are possible and desirable in a EU where still more EU citizens have access to national benefits because of EU enlargements and case law of the European Court of Justice? In this chapter “Social tourism and de-coupling rights and obligations” I set out how the political discussion of social tourism in Denmark and abroad intensified after the EU Eastern Enlargement with new topics, benefits and countries. Then I describe how the fear of social tourism in Denmark which has fairly universal and generous benefits, can be accredited to ECJ case law and larger differences in wealth between member states that has gradually expanded the material scope of application (more benefits) and the personal scope of applications (more persons) covered by EU law. However, the scope of social tourism is limited even when defined in broad terms as EU citizens’ use of social benefits, although there is a marked growth especially in claimants of social assistance and unemployment benefits in later years. Finally, I turn to the changes Denmark has introduced as a response to fears of social tourism and suggest initiatives that Denmark could initiate at the EU and the national level to update EU legislation and keep the national welfare model.

Against the tide in most debates on social tourism a major finding is that there is not much difference in degree of exposure to social turism between countries with a universal welfare system with few links between rights and obligations and countries with a more social insurance based system with more links between rights and obligations. For the Danish language chapter press Kvist 2014 Velfærdsturisme og afkobling af ret og pligt.

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