Wolfgang Schaeuble
Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German Finance Minister, said the country profits from European integration more than any other countryReuters

The furore around immigration from Eastern Europe has reached Germany, but the Finance Minister of Europe's largest Economy has dismissed fears that too many migrants are flocking to the country.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has hit back at anti-mass immigration politicians in Germany by claiming his country has benefited from European Union integration more than any other member.

It is thought that Schaeuble was indirectly criticising the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), which is a sister party to the ruling CDU, after the CSU recommended limits to welfare payments for immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria.

"We Germans don't have any reason at all to harbour hostile attitudes against others," Schaeuble told Reuters.

He added: "Germany profits from European integration more than any other country.

"We're dependent on workers coming to us. Some sectors, such as nursing homes and home care, could not function any more without them."

The country, with a relatively low unemployment rate of 6.9% and a soon to be introduced minimum wage of more than £7, is attractive to prospective migrants.

The debate in Germany comes after the British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to "crackdown" on so-called "benefit tourism" in the UK.

Cameron brought forward plans to tighten the country's welfare system for EU migrants just before restrictions were lifted on Romanian and Bulgarian workers.

The new rules mean, from 1 January, EU citizens must have lived in the UK for three months before they can claim out-of-work benefits, compared to several weeks as it used to stand.

Benefits will also be removed from EU jobseekers who have "no job prospects", said the government, and there will be a year-long re-entry ban for deported migrants who could not find work.

But any legislation from an EU member state that could stop the free movement of persons could come under fire in Brussels.

This is because the free movement of persons is a fundamental right guaranteed to EU citizens by the union's treaties.

It is realised through the area of freedom, security and justice without internal borders, according to the EU.