McIntyre: EU benefits advice boosts Britain's reform plans

06-Oct-2015 @ 10:45

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

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Conservative MEPs today welcomed expert legal advice to European Court backing Britain's right to withold Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit from some EU migrants.

The European Court of Justice received an opinion from its Advocate General that the UK was not breaching EU law by introducing a “right to reside” test for a number of social security benefits.

The opinion does not amount to a fnal ruling but the Advocate General's advice is accepted by the court in the vast majority of cases.

Anthea McIntyre, Conservative spokesman on employment in the European Parliament, said: "This is very welcome news for Britain's drive to combat benfits tourism. If adopted by the court it bodes very well for David Cameron's renegotiation programme."

The UK has introduced a “right to reside” test for a number of social security benefits including Child benefit, Child Tax Credit and Income Support.UK nationals automatically have a right to reside in the UK but other EU nationals have to meet additional conditions in order to pass the test. These include family situation, duration and continuity of presence, employment situation and housing situation.

However, the EU Commission took Britain to court claiming a breach of rules on the coordination of social security systems which outlaw "direct and indirect discrimination".

Although EU law on the free movement of citizens does allow Member States to restrict access to social assistance, the commission argued that the co-ordination rules do not allow for restrictions on social security benefits in the case of EU nationals that are workers, direct family members of workers or habitually resident in the Member State in question.

The UK is adamant that it is justified by rules stating that a non-active person must have sufficient financial resources to avoid becoming a burden on the social assistance scheme.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, said: "Increasingly the EU institutions and its politicians are starting to realise member states must be allowed to set their own rules and do things their own way.

"Other countries share our unease about the abuse of free movement rules and are receptive to our reform agenda.

"The ECJ knows which way the political wind blows and it is starting to blow the way of reform in Europe."

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