Monday

23rd Jan 2017

EU to 'scrutinise' Cameron's migrant benefits plan

  • Cameron visits staff at British supermarket chain (Photo: gov.uk)

The British government announced on Tuesday (29 July) it will tighten benefits for unemployed migrants from the EU in plans the European Commission has said it will examine closely.

Under the proposals, London is to reduce to three months - down from six months - the time EU migrants without realistic job prospects can claim welfare.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Prime Minister David Cameron said it was about "addressing the magnetic pull of Britain’s benefits system".

Other measures include banning "overseas only recruitment" and "massively" restricting the number of jobs automatically put on an EU jobs portal. "This is about putting British residents first," he said.

The move comes on top of changes announced last year under which EU migrants may only claim unemployment benefits after three months of being in the UK.

The new measures are seen as an attempt to try and counter the popularity of the UK Independence Party ahead of next year's general election.

The party topped the polls in the May EU vote and has been positioning itself as the only party willing to tackle immigration.

The European Commission, for its part, said Cameron's proposals will be "scrutinised" carefully once the details are clear.

"[Migrant workers are] of immense economic benefit to the member states in terms, in particular of responding to skills gaps and labour shortages," a commission spokesperson said on Tuesday.

He also noted that jobseekers’ allowance for immigrants is normally paid by “the country where they were previously seeking work”.

Immigration has been a hot topic in the UK for several years with the government launching a strong campaign at both the national and EU level against so-called welfare tourism.

However the numbers remain foggy, including on how much is spent by the UK on welfare payments to other EU nationals.

A European Commission study early this year found that the "vast majority" of EU migrants moving to another member states do so to work or to look for work and are more likely - because they are younger - to be in employment than the nationals of the host country.

Meanwhile, the UK's own Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has said that migrants benefit the country's economy.

In a report published last year, it said that more migrants are needed to fund the costs of pensions and social welfare payments.

A migration report leaked to the BBC earlier this month also found that EU migrants have had a largely positive effect and cited evidence suggesting they are less likely to use benefits than Britons.

The study, commissioned by the British government, was supposed to be ready last year but formal publication has been delayed indefinitely, reportedly because it was considered too positive.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden to host EU social summit
  2. US Congress may Trump-proof Russia sanctions
  3. Fury over UK 'cover up' of failed missile test
  4. Theresa May: I will not be afraid to stand up to Trump
  5. Brexit will destroy NI peace deal, says Gerry Adams
  6. EU housing price increase by 4.3%
  7. EU trade chief says UK deal will take 'couple of years'
  8. German defence spending boost not enough for Nato goal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Influence of Turkish Politics in Europe After the Coup Attempt
  2. World VisionEU Urged to do Better Ahead of Helsinki Conference on Syria
  3. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  4. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  5. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  6. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  7. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  8. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  9. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  10. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  11. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  12. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London

Latest News

  1. EU says milk protest 'difficult to understand'
  2. Future of euro on EU agenda This WEEK
  3. Pope warns populism could lead to 'saviours' like Hitler
  4. How the EU can protect the world’s forest by tackling corruption
  5. Leftist newcomer takes lead in French Socialist primary
  6. Far-right groups pledge allegiance ahead of elections
  7. Trump pledges US-first foreign policy
  8. GMO opt-out plan remains in waiting room