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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Will the European Commission challenge Cameron's crack-down on EU migrants’ access to benefits?

We have just published a new flash analysis looking at David Cameron's plans to change the rules on EU migrants' access to benefits.

Here's a handy table (click to enlarge) summarising the key proposals, and whether they are likely to be deemed legal by the European Commission:
So whether the European Commission will  take the UK to court will very much depend on, how, exactly the measures are implemented. Interestingly, so far the Commission has stayed clear of openly saying the measures are illegal, and of course, the UK government will have sought to ground this with both its own lawyers and EU ones.

However, remember, the UK is already locked into an ongoing legal dispute with the Commission over the rights of EU migrants to access the UK’s ‘universalist’ welfare system. Cameron’s recent intervention signifies a definite hardening of tone and position in this dispute, and in response EU Social Affairs Commissioner Laszlo Andor has said that the UK risks being seen as a “nasty country.”

As we have said before (see here, here and here, for instance), we think the Commission has a tendency to be overly activist in this area. However,  the key issues here - which Cameron could have done a better job of expressing in his intervention -  is that the EU's complicated and outdated rules on access to welfare need a complete overhaul, something which the Austrians, Dutch and Germans have already signalled their support for.


Rik said...

Cameron started a bit late.
From there this is likely as good as damage limitation as it gets.
-Negative headlines re welfareseekers. Welfareseekers are the political nightmare. Normal workers are not great, but welfareseekers especially the clearly visible ones like Roma are a political disaster especially if numbers would get substantial.
-Close to the 1/1 deathline (so the first wave might rather take Sweden and Germany iso the UK and aspecially the chronic non paying passengers. Very likely these will go for certain and not go for uncertainty.
-Close to 1/1 makes attacking it by the Commission very difficult. December they are closed and basically they need the legal text to be able to do anything.
-Not negative, probably positive at home as well as people see he is actually doing something.

Hardly will win a 'beauty contest' but under time pressure as said it is probably as good as it gets. Hard to see how Cameron even with support of several other countries could have been able to change the rules in time. Good luck he is outside Schengen as well. Another reason for chronic welfareseekers to move to Malmstrom's backyard iso the UK.
In this respect making it difficult for landlords and employers might also be benificial.
May be do a 'Gibraltar' as well. Apparently that is legal.

Obozo is able to blame DoubleYou for everything uptil his kid's bad reports. Cameron could learn a lesson from that. This is Blairish madness, put the blame where it belongs.

Anonymous said...

The EU, having turned the Eurozone into an economic wasteland, are trying to force the UK to pick up the risk and hence the cost of their ongoing economic and social disaster.

We are already in debt to the tune of GBP1.2Trn and rising, a debt that we are leaving to our children. Children (and indeed adults) are already finding it hard to compete for work against EU migrants who will work at minimum wage or below and are expendable.

Exponentially increasing the supply of labour is only going to drive wages down into benefits territory and force the cost of employment onto the UK state.

How are our children going to pay this millstone of a debt off that we are leaving them?

I do not care what the EU says or does. Most of its policies are now directly conflicting with our national interest.

EU immigration is no longer socially or economically sustainable.

Free trade. No sovereignty.


Freedom Lover said...

In an article entitled 'EU politics: gesture politics on immigration', & dated Wednesday 27 November 2013, the EU Referendum blog site comments & quotes as follows: "Newly arrived EU jobseekers will not be able to claim housing benefit. If people are not here to work – if they are begging or sleeping rough – they will be removed... says Mr Cameron today.

But haven't we been there before? On 7 April 2010 (see The Telegraph online for this), just before the general election, we had the then Labour government announce that migrants who have not found work and were sleeping rough would be deported because they were not protected by the EU rules on right to free movement.

That was a trial scheme in Peterborough, also extended to parts of London, Oxford and Reading, but it had the Conservatives quickly condemning the Government for being too slow in dealing with the problem.

By July of the same year though, the scheme was coming under fire. "While these expulsions have a basis in domestic law, EU law is supreme in this area and any domestic law provision must comply with EU law", said Adam Weiss, assistant director of the Aire (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe) Centre.

"EU law makes it very difficult to justify expelling an EU national on the basis that that person is not exercising residence rights, which is what the [UK] authorities are trying to do," he added. "We anticipate that the higher courts will find all, or virtually all, of these expulsions unlawful under EU law".

By the following year, the scheme seemed to have degenrated into farce, with the idea that homeless jobseekers from EU member states could be deported having been successfully challenged.

Total figures for enforced removals for that year, including people refused entry at port and subsequently removed, amounted to 41,482. Those described as European accounted for less than ten percent – about 4,000 in all - barely scratching the surface of a problem when the UK had taken in 225,000 Roma alone.

And as for Mr Cameron citing the Netherlands in support of his actions, in February 2012, the European Commission was reported to be preparing to take legal action against the Netherlands if it pressed ahead with plans to deport EU nationals who were jobless for three months.

With that situation apparently unresolved, it looks very much as if Mr Cameron, on this issue at least, is indulging in his usual game of gesture politics. Whatever else he has in mind, deporting unemployed migrants from EU member states is not a serious contribution to the problem.

Average Englishman said...

Well said 'Anonymous'. I have no interest in the words of the Commission either; we are well beyond that now. Better off out for the UK by far and then Germany can do its best to knock some sense into the rump of the EU, because no-one else is likely to.

Anonymous said...

The Camaroon only comes up with this junk in an attempt to show the voters he is in control when in fact the unelected commission of the corruption ridden democratically deficient eussr holds the reigns, and he has no means of deivering unless he takes us out of his beloved eussr.