More than 1,000 Latvians register on Estonian side of the border

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Estonia's ERR News reported January 18 that more than 1,000 people from the northern Latvian town of Valka have registered their place of residence in the adjacent Estonian town of Valga in order to claim higher levels of social benefits, and child benefits in particular.

"According to local media, some 1,300 of the inhabitants of Valka, the Latvian border town just across from Valga on the Estonian side, are already registered as Estonian residents. And their number is increasing," says ERR News.

The strategy is to register officially in Estonia while actually living in Latvia day to day. Under European Union rules, this allows them to claim Estonian benefits while enjoying cheaper living conditions south of the border.

According to a reporter from the Ziemelļatvija (Northern Latvia) newspaper cited in the report, it is appreciably higher levels of child benefit in Estonia that are often the decisive factor. For a family of five it means the difference between 134 euros per month on the Latvian side of the border and 500 euros per month a few meters away in Estonia.

Valka mayor Vents Armands Krauklis believes the trend could lead to a local crisis placing funding pressures on schools and kindergartens.

Read the full report at ERR News.



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