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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us