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David Cameron Adamant on Elimination of Benefits for European workers
01 December 2015
Prime Minister David Cameron is currently at loggerheads with Poland along with other European member states as his negotiators continue to demand the EU workers not be allowed work benefits for at least four years. Downing Street is fails to budge on some of the Premier’s more controversial elements regarding the Premier’s EU renegotiation which represent the commitment to reduce the draw from the country’s welfare system to citizens who come from poverty stricken EU countries.
Besides Poland, the countries involved in the dispute include Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Also known as the Visegrad states, each responded negatively to the proposals made during an EU ‘confessional’ meeting and also provided their own opinions on how their own citizens stand to suffer if the proposals are implemented. According to a diplomat from Eastern Europe, if the suggestions are implemented they will breach core European principles and bring an end to freedom of movement.
However, even though Britain has accepted that complete discrimination is not possible under European Union treaties, certain informed officials have reportedly told the Sunday Telegraph that some of the poorer EU states may eventually have no choice but to accept some level of discrimination against marginalised citizens. According to the official, this can take the form of residency tests, an evaluation of how much each citizen has contributed to the system based on their net earnings and other questionable measures all which could reduce the ‘pull factor’ of the benefits system.
With the recent ruling of the European Court of Justice that justified certain discriminatory measures against EU migrants, negotiators have become more confident regarding their stance. Most believe that the opinion to the ECJ from the senior legal advisor can cause indirect discrimination against EU immigrant workers; current work benefits for arriving EU migrants can be seen as a distortion of the labour markets.
One of the British Premier’s inner circle members who are taking part in the renegotiation efforts, Mats Persson, recently made Mr. Cameron’s stance clear during a state dinner by insisting that indirect discrimination regarding EU benefits is acceptable. Besides diplomatic dignitaries, certain British officials are also trying to persuade other members of the European Union such as Belgium and France to see the logic of their case in order to garner more support.
According to a senior diplomat, their efforts have not all been in vain as there is sympathy for the benefits so long as the free movement of the people is not impacted too much. The country is also lobbying Visegrad influence by arguing that an extremely attractive benefit system will not serve the nation’s best interest since it will cause a ‘brain drain’ in their own country.
However, the Premier’s plans may receive opposition from officials of the European Commission who opine that the legal and political ramifications of the move may be catastrophic. According to legal experts, Downing Street may also face difficulty on home ground if the new regulations are applied to UK citizens besides EU immigrants.