Minister discourages giving to beggars

4:58 min

Government representatives have urged Swedes not to give money to beggars from Bulgaria and Romania, but instead to donate money to organisations working in those countries.

In an op-ed published in newspaper Dagens Nyheter Friday, Åsa Regnér, Sweden’s minister for children, the elderly and gender equality, and Martin Valfridsson, the government’s national coordinator for vulnerable European Union citizens, wrote:

“We want to emphasise that there are alternatives to giving to the needy in Sweden and instead to support development locally for vulnerable people in Romania and Bulgaria.”

Regnér and Valfridsson also highlighted the need for rules and measures to prevent illegal settlements and the exploitation and physical assault of vulnerable EU citizens in Sweden.

On Wednesday, Regnér met Bulgaria’s minister of labor and social policy, Ivailo Kalfin, to discuss a collaboration agreement focusing on welfare issues. Sweden and Romania signed a similar agreement in June.

Foreigners begging in Sweden has been a hot-button issue here for over a year now. There's been proposals to ban the practice and claims that its organized by criminal gangs. It's also a relatively new problem for Sweden, though not for Romania.

One man working on the problem there is Ciprian Necula, a secretary of state within the Romanian Ministry of European Funds and a member of the Roma minority, of which many of the beggars in Sweden are members.

He was in Stockholm on Friday for a conference on the issue and made it clear that the Romanian government recognizes the problem.

"Begging should not be a profession for anyone," he said. "And begging is not the right way to generate an income, for anyone."

Necula says although poverty is the root of the problem for beggars in Sweden, it will take more than jobs to solve it.