David Cameron takes his biggest gamble yet as he gets tough on Europe over immigration

The Prime Minister reveals he's prepared to block the entry of new member states unless stricter 'freedom of movement' controls are imposed

David Cameron raised the stakes in his fight to curb migration by threatening to veto the admission of new members to the European Union unless they accept tough new controls on their citizens moving to the UK.

The Prime Minister’s dramatic move fuelled tensions with other EU nations at the end of a two-day summit in Brussels.  In yesterday’s session,  Mr Cameron was greeted with silence when he called for the need for stricter transitional controls on the right to work  throughout the EU when countries join the 28-nation bloc in future.

He went further at a press conference, revealing that he would be prepared to block the entry of new member states unless stricter “freedom of movement” controls were imposed. He said: “I would make the point that on new accessions, they are by unanimity so they don’t happen unless everybody agrees. So you do have a real opportunity, irrespective of treaty change, to insist on a different approach.”

Initially, the Prime Minister will demand tough safeguards on migration in talks over the next few years on a new treaty to entrench fiscal discipline in the eurozone. If he succeeds, it could be a key selling point in the in/out referendum on Europe he has promised in 2017, when he intends to recommend continued membership.

Although Germany, the Netherlands and Austria share Britain’s concerns about migration,  “freedom of movement” for all  citizens is regarded as a fundamental EU principle.  Diplomats from other countries dismissed as a “non-starter” Mr Cameron’s controversial plan to link the right to work in other EU countries to a new member state’s GDP, income or wage levels. On his threat to veto new members, one official said: “It’s a sad day when Britain, which was once the champion of enlargement, resorts to this.  I cannot imagine the EU agreeing to make people in poor countries stay poorer for longer.”

However, some diplomats did not rule out longer transitional periods before people in new member states  win full rights to work in all EU countries. For example, the maximum seven-year wait for Romanians and Bulgarians could be extended to 10 years when other countries join the EU club.  Potential new members include Albania, one of the poorest countries in the region; Serbia; Turkey and Ukraine. But none is expected to join in the next decade.

Mr Cameron’s tough talk is part of his attempt to reassure public opinion before Romanians and Bulgarians gain the right to work in the UK on January 1.

The Prime Minister insisted he supported enlargement but said Britain is “not currently supporting” moves to grant Albania “candidate status.”

He told journalists: “The EU’s founding fathers simply did not envisage that with the accession of new countries would trigger mass population movements across Europe. As we contemplate countries like Serbia or Albania one day joining the EU, we must find a way to slow down access to each other’s labour markets until we can be sure that it will not cause vast migrations.”

He added: “We must return it to what the EU first envisaged….It was meant to be about free movement to go and take up a job that you have already applied for. It was not about free movement for benefit tourism. It was not about free movement for people who don’t have the means to support themselves.”

He added: “People are welcome to come and work, but not to come and claim….I don't think it is right that people can come and work in the UK, with their families back at home but getting UK levels of child benefit in the home country.”

The Prime Minister said  the “lessons of history” showed the previous Labour Government  was wrong to give  unfettered immediate access to the UK labour market to  Poland, Hungary and the Baltic states when they joined the EU.

The European Commission said: “There is no evidence that EU nationals go to other EU countries in order to claim benefits or that there is any widespread or systematic abuse by EU nationals of other countries' welfare systems.

“On the contrary, numerous studies show that the vast majority of EU nationals go to other member states to work and that they usually pay more in tax and social security contributions than they receive in benefits because more of them tend to be of working age compared with the population of the host country.”

 

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam