Dismay over EU legal action

30-May-2013 @ 17:0

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Conservative MEPs today reacted to European Commission plans to take court action against Britain over benefit-tourism safeguards.
Anthea McIntyre and Timothy Kirkhope spoke out after the Commission announced so-called infringement proceedings against the UK over the ‘right to reside’ test applied to EU migrants seeking certain welfare benefits. Commission officials claim the test breaches EU law because British citizens pass it automatically.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament, said: "Commissioners don't seem to realise how thin the British public's patience with Europe is wearing. This is no time for unnecessary provocation.
Mr Kirkhope, a former Home Office minister and Conservative spokesman on Justice and Home Affairs in the parliament, said the case demonstrated the need for a Europe-wide overhaul of the way benefits rules are applied.
The Commission considers that criteria already laid down by EU law are strict enough and thus ensure that only those people who have actually moved their centre of interest to a Member State are considered habitually resident.
Mr Kirkhope observed: "The UK was not the only member state on whom the Commission launched infringement proceedings today. Spain has had complaints about the refusal by Spanish hospitals to recognise the European Health Insurance card, the Commission has asked Finland to remove restrictions on migrant workers entitlements to unemployment benefits, and the Commission continues action against Lithuania to uphold EU citizen's rights of free movement for their families across Europe.
"Britain already has support from Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. The UK has an opportunity to lead and build strong coalitions in Europe which create reform, allowing only those that contribute to British society to access to social welfare, but still ensure freedom of movement in order to allow the British economy to grow, the single market to flourish, and allow the millions of Britons who have chosen to live elsewhere in the European Union to have fair access and rights to other Member States social welfare systems.
Miss McIntyre said: "Britain has very good reason to apply these tests. Our benefits tend to be universal and means-tested, whereas those some other parts of Europe tend to be earned through insurance payments - that is, by long-term residence.
"That's why these rules are entirely appropriate for Britain. Similar rules also exist in Holland, Germany and Austria.
"I certainly welcome efforts to increase mobility for those what wish to work, but I do not welcome measures that will inadvertently provide incentives to those who want to come to the UK not to work.
"This decision to target the UK is disproportionate and downright unhelpful at a time when the Britain's future in Europe is the subject of so much controversy."
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