Wednesday

23rd Aug 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.

Opinion

Cameron's tight-rope walk on free movement

EU migration will be the key battle in the UK election next year. Polls show that immigration is the number one issue for British voters; they care about it more than the economy. So what will David Cameron's approach be?

Opinion

Managing migration: a European responsibility

"The EU now needs to bring its weight to bear, to ensure non-EU countries cooperate on taking back their nationals arriving as economic migrants", writes migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls on Serbia and Macedonia to remain calm
  2. Schulz wants US to remove nuclear weapons from Germany
  3. Ukraine and Russia to announce another ceasefire
  4. EU to investigate Monsanto-Bayer merger
  5. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  6. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  7. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings
  8. Putin sends EU-blacklisted ambassador to US

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference