Saturday

3rd Dec 2016

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. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CESIElects Leaders and Sets Safety & Health at Work and Gender Equality Among the Guidelines For Next Term
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  3. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  4. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  5. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  6. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  7. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  8. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  10. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  12. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security