Plans for greater powers to limit welfare payments for EU migrants have been drawn up by the European Commission, according to a draft seen by POLITICO.
The college of commissioners will on Tuesday approve a plan to modify EU laws on “the coordination of social security systems” to crack down on EU migrants claiming benefits such as unemployment allowance.
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Restricting social benefits is already possible under EU law and was confirmed last year at the European Court of Justice, which ruled in favor of a German law that stops EU citizens from claiming some benefits if they arrive in the country for economic reasons.
However, the situation varies across the EU and the Commission says a rule change “is necessary for reasons of clarity, transparency and legal certainty.” According to Commission figures, there are 3.7 million “economically inactive mobile citizens” in the bloc.
The Commission is also proposing a “coordination of family benefits,” which includes a “uniform interpretation” of rules on child benefits.
It will be up to EU countries and the European Parliament to accept or amend the Commission’s proposal in the coming months.
Negotiations will likely be difficult as some countries, such as Germany and Austria, are likely to push for stricter access for child benefits, whereas the European Parliament is traditionally wary of restricting welfare payments.
Social welfare changes, including capping child benefit for EU nationals, was part of former British prime minister David Cameron’s failed attempt to persuade Brits to vote to stay in the EU.