Plan to cut child benefit paid to EU migrants will be vetoed, says Brussels

Laszlo Andor insists that France and Denmark have more generous welfare systems than the UK

Political Editor

The Government’s plans to cut the child benefit paid to some EU migrants working in Britain will be vetoed by other member states, Brussels has warned.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg agree that people from other EU countries whose families remain in their home country while they work in the UK should not be able to draw British levels of child benefit. The payments, of £20.30 a week for the first child and £13.40 for each additional one, are much more generous than those in eastern European countries such as Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. In 2012, about 24,000 EU migrants claimed child benefit in Britain, even though their children did not live in the country.

Any one of these countries could veto the Government’s attempt to pay “local” rather than UK child benefit rates to such workers in Britain, because a change in the rules would need the backing of all 28 EU member states.

Laszlo Andor, the EU social affairs commissioner, told The Independent: “To ensure the free movement of workers within the EU, an essential element of the single market, it is crucial to ensure that EU countries do not discriminate against workers from other EU countries.”

He added: “Workers from another EU country, paying taxes and social security contributions in the host country, must receive the same benefits as workers from the host country. For example, they are entitled to receive child benefits irrespective of whether their children are actually resident in the same country. Currently this is the case in all member states.”

Mr Laszlo warned: “Any change to these rules would require an amendment to the treaty that would have to be ratified by the parliaments of all 28 EU countries”.

He insisted that countries such as France and Denmark had more generous welfare systems than the UK, warning that the “rhetoric” in the debate among British politicians risked them “losing friends” in Europe and giving their country a “bad image”.

The Commission argues that there is no evidence of “benefit tourism” and that migrants contribute more in taxes than they take out in welfare.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said Britain was winning allies inside the EU for reforms to tackle “benefit tourism”. He suggested that his personal view was to delay payments to EU migrants until they had been in the UK for up to two years, rather than the three-month maximum allowed under EU law.

Mr Clegg said yesterday it was “eminently sensible” to look at restricting such benefits, but told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the Conservatives were “flirting” with EU exit, which would be “economic suicide”. He added that the Tories and UK Independence Party were locked in a “race to the bottom” in a “deathly embrace” as they competed with each other.

The Deputy Prime Minister dismissed a proposal by Mr Duncan Smith to limit child benefit to two children per family for all 7.5m claimants, including UK citizens. Mr Clegg said: “I am not in favour of a sort of Chinese-style family policy.”

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, rejected a call by 95 Tory MPs for Parliament to be given a veto on every aspect of EU law. He told Sky News: “If national parliaments all around the EU were regularly and unilaterally able to choose which bits of EU law they would apply and which bits they would not, then the European single market would not work, and even a Swiss-style free trade arrangement with the EU would not work.”

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
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

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum