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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New rules on access to benefits: another UK legal stand-off with the Commission?

The Government has today announced the details of the "minimum earnings threshold" that will be applied from 1 March to EU migrants seeking to claim certain benefits in the UK. The plan was first outlined in David Cameron's FT article last year, and the DWP has today revealed the details.

Under the new system, EU migrants will have to demonstrate they have earned around £150 a week - the level at which employees pay National Insurance contributions - for three months in order to qualify for "worker" status, which opens the door to certain benefit entitlements. Jobseeker's will need to wait three months before getting income-based jobseeker's allowance and, after the introduction of new rules on April 1, they will be ineligible for housing benefit. Those deemed not economically active would need earnings above income support levels and comprehensive sickness insurance, to be eligible to claim child benefit or child tax credit.

In our briefing following David Cameron's article in November 2013, we noted that the proposal for an earnings threshold had the potential to intensify the legal stand-off between the Government and the European Commission over the rules on access to benefits.

The Telegraph today quotes a Commission spokesman as saying:
The Court of Justice's case law makes clear that part-time workers, trainees and au pairs can be classified as 'workers', provided their activity has an economic value and is genuine and effective. This case-law makes clear that a definition of a worker according to the amount he or she earns is not compatible with EU law.
This is only an initial reaction and the Commission cannot take further action until it has reviewed the proposals. But, as we understand it, the Government will argue that it is not illegal because the threshold simply acts as an 'alarm bell' at which point claimants will face a fuller assessment of whether their work is "genuine and effective", with the possibility of being denied worker status.

This extra step means that the threshold is not an automatic criteria and should therefore fulfil the EU requirement that each applicant be assessed on their individual case.

What the Commission will make of this argument we cannot say but, as we have argued before, rather than the constant battling between the Commission and member states on this issue (it's not just the UK), the rules on access to welfare need proper reform, with a much stronger link between access to welfare and an economic contribution to the host country.


Rik said...

Until the immigration issue can be discussed as part of a complte reform/reneg, the best Cameron can do is damage limitation.

Things like this not going directly against the EUlaw/treaties it has signed up to as some MPs want. No use to go full confrontational if you donot have to, plus you can always do that lateron when opportune.
But borderline so you get a legal quarrel which simply buys time.
Add this will get in the news in the immigration countries and simply be bad PR for further immigration. Even better the less desirable the groups are the worse that PR will be for that.
With no rules in place and a rather dysfunctional immigration service it is as good as it gets.

Seem to work. Percentage of new jobs taken by locals has risen dramatically.
Another proof that rhetoric/PR can do as much as real legislation nowadays.

Added the fact that the EU making problems will at the end of the day only play in Cameron's cards. Like here stating that people who havenot contributed anything are entitled to social security is simply creating the public platform Cameron needs for a reneg (and it will come handy too in election time).
Works as well cross border this will get in the news abroad and
do its work, like the Swiss referendum.

Difficult to sell to its full potential. You cannot go public at least not now, stating that this is just temporary and if it fails you come up with the next one. Hard to explain as well that creating problems works as well as legislation.

Anonymous said...

Enough of trying to "reform" what can't be reformed, I hope the UK leaves the EU and paves the way for other member countries to do the same.
What a waste of time and energy EU is!

Anonymous said...

Rik you have it wrong Camoron has no intention of ever giving us a referendum he is only saying that because he knows that he is so unpopular there is no other reason for anyone to vote tory. The man is a proven liar so why believe anything he says?

Anonymous said...

only way is out

Anonymous said...

Time to stop tinkering around the edges.

The EUSSR is a technocratic, fascistic blight on humanity and the UK should have nothing to do with it.

The UK and its people are better than that.

Anonymous said...

If the EU were truly concerned about all of this it would have re-allocated monies from central budgets to countries experiencing high levels of immigration.

Why should any state have to pay for the mess that the EU and Eurozone have created in the mismanagement of the EU economy? I object to having to borrow more, when we are already GBP1.2Trn in debt, to pay for the incompetence of others. Our children will struggle having to pay for the this colossal debt without adding to it.

Who on earth signed over powers such as these to the EU? This is gross negligence on behalf of our politicians and the least that they can do to make amends is to give our referendum.


Average Englishman said...

This is just one more example of how the Commissars in Brussels are slowly but surely taking over control of the UK on a day-to-day operational basis. Cameron will do nothing about this as he is a fan of the EU and he is just posturing about immigration and many other issues and in time honoured EU fashion is trying to 'kick the can down the road'. The man has to go, in favour of a UK Prime Minister with a backbone who respects the will of the UK people.

Rik said...

Why would Cameron want to abolish his party?
Making things your main selling point and subsequently saying 'middlefinger' simply would do that.
Seen from a long term survival of his party that would be the worst possible strategy.

Just have a look at peil.nl on the approvalrate of Rutte (or what we see now with the approvalrate of Merky in Germany as she came close to doing a Rutte).
And Rutte only lied (not even that really) a few months before the election on only one of the more important points (healthcare). Not like Cameron make it a spotlight plus a critical long term issue.
Anyway Rutte lost seems structural now half his voters and nearly all find him (and the party) uncredible, unreliable and untrustworthy. Look at the percentage his party got rougly halved and compare the percentages voted for in last election and now on these critical points. You see that roughly all who moved away have very negative views on things like credibililty, trustworthy etc. Which means the chance that they will go back is not much higher than 0, these are by the nature of things structural/long term problems.
Cameron has made it even part of the 'Tory brand'. The best way to commit political suicide is throwing those brandvalues out of the window. Would be like Farage campaigning for more Europe together with Schultz and Reding.

He might rather not have had to do it. But who cares about that. Politicians do that all the time. It is called compromise and this time with the voterbase iso other political parties.

He simply has seen that the pro-Europe fort was no longer defendable and gave it up. That is what yoiu should do, but the large majority of European politicians donot.
As one of the first traditional politicians. Look with Labour, look with LibDem, in fact look all over Europe a lot of them are now in the process of moving. But only with words at the moment.
Guys like Farage were of course before that and partly caused the trend. But they made being anti-establishment their brandimage.
Cameron is the first major traditional politicians in Europe doing this. And actually unlike the Zgermans doesnot do only pre-election rhetoric.

The problem with people like yourself is that you simply have a completely unrealistic picture of things. Very similar of that of the EU politicians only its mirror image.
They are defending an undefendable fort and you are attackiing an unwinnable one.
The latter in the way that you have your own views (which you are of course entitled to). The problem is those views are not majority views not electoral not political and certainly not in the rest of Europe.

Rik said...


Your issue is that you simply donot see that in a discussion you can have different views, but when you move to execution, implementation somewhere a real life decision has to be made.
Which means usually compromise (and subsequently that compromise is executed).
Cameron's strategy is as good as it gets for people with your opinion. If you make his strategy impossible the realistic alternatives then are a lot further from what you really want.

Of course he (and especially Hague) needs a good kicking forward now and then to be kept on course. But there is a huge difference between that and being an obstacle. And simply people like yourself and the backbench-Che's are moving into becoming obstacles.

Spoil it and the day might be over. This is the time to reform and get concessions. EU is getting more and more under pressure and trend is getting worse at least for anything upto medium term (and probably more). And no strategy to correct the internal ills (and a huge bunch of clowns to chose from in next EP election so it will continue, next term).

These are the days to send in the vanguard to create some extra pressure and prepare yourself for battle. And not the time to have people with their own unrealistic ideas run in the way and make things much more complicated for the side they themselves are supposedly on.
OE made a poster about Reding, but the EU could have made a similar one with you. At this stage you are a bigger asset for the EU burocrats than Reding as you simply make a coordinated attack much more difficult.
When you attack the last thing you need is people who start to discuss whether it should be their left or their right flank.

Understand when you are discussing and understand when it is decisionmakingtime (and compromise time) and donot mix them up if you want to see results. You are simply dividing the change-camp.

Anonymous said...

Rik camoron is a dyed in the wool europhile, he has no intention of ever giving us a referendum, that's why he didn't support the private members bill to give us the referendum and has "promised" one in 2017 if we reelect him, well we didn't elect him in the first place, and given the track record of the coalition we won't elect him ever, so he lies, again, and some people will believe him, they are wrong.

Rik said...

The private members bill is hogwash and in many ways. It was never going to make it under normal circumstances.
However when the whole thing started to play (with the backbenchers as well as) with Labour being against it. Cameron took the wise political decision to move.
But he did that more to expose Mr Ed and Labour than actually seeing the use of the bill (with no real majority for it).

Anyway Cameron is as good as it gets re EU. Farage is simply never going to have a majority for his somewhat wild plans. And Labour is back to Blair (as far as EU policies go unlike they are really forced to do otherwise).
At the end of the day your views are simply not supported by a majority in the UK, realise that and from there make the decisions that will 'maximise' your pov's.
Which simply means compromise with the group that is closest to you in pov, which happens to be Cameron (whether you like it or not).
And support the one that is leading the reneg (again that is Cameron and for the same reason). The 'united we stand, divided we fall' thingy.
If you want any chance of (partial) results, Cameron is your by far best option (logically seen), live with it.
Or not, if you prefer that, which only means that your views never will get further than pubtalk.
As said many times this is the time to get the EU changed to something desirable.

Anonymous said...

What makes you think Farage has wild plans, unless you are in favour of the rich boys train set, giving away billions to europe, allowing unfettered immigration selling the nhs off to foreign companies, that is.