Last year the Federal Employment Agency (BA) transferred €343 million in child benefit payments into foreign bank accounts, the RedaktionsNetzwerks Deutschland reported on Wednesday. That represented a tenfold rise over 2007 when the BA transferred €35.8 million in child benefits into foreign bank accounts.
The BA figures were published in response to a parliamentary question posed by the Alternative for Germany (AfD).
A total of 214,499 foreign children who don't reside in Germany received Kindergeld last year. Most of them (103,000) held residential status in Poland, followed by Romania (17,000) and Croatia (17,000). In 2007 some 61,615 foreign children living abroad received German child benefits.
Last year there were also 34,000 German children living abroad who receive child benefits.
Most of the foreign children who receive child benefits live in Germany. Close to 600,000 Turkish, 155,000 Polish and 110,000 Romanian children living in Germany were receiving child benefits in December last year.
According to the current state of German law, EU citizens working in Germany have the right to claim child benefits even if their children live elsewhere.
Former Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble attempted last year to change the law so that children abroad would receive benefits at the level set in their home country. But the EU Commission rejected the proposal, according to Die Zeit.
René Springer, an MP for the AfD, said that “one cannot explain to the German tax payer why for example money is transferred every month for a Bulgarian child who lives in Bulgaria.”
“The government is incapable of changing the law so that children abroad received benefits at the level of their own country,” he added.
But the AfD came in for criticism from Matthias Seestern-Pauly, an MP for the Free Democrats (FDP), who charged them with misinterpreting the numbers for a political goal.
“Once more, the AfD are intentionally trying to give the impression that there is systematic exploitation of the system. This isn’t the case,” he said.
Michael Frieser, MP for the Christian Social Union (CSU), said that “Germany’s proposed law is sitting with the European Commission. The government has done everything that it can.”
“Misuse of the system must be fought against. But the numbers also show that the vast majority of people who receive child benefits for their children live in Germany,” he said.