It looks like David Cameron might have found a way of securing a big part of his EU membership renegotiation: making new EU migrants wait four years before they can claim in-work benefits in the UK. According to the Telegraph, EU states have told Cameron that they will accept the four-year rule, but only if British workers aged 18-22 are also made to wait the same period before they can claim in-work benefits.
In effect, this would put all new workers in the British marketplace on a level playing field.
If this deal between Cameron and the EU goes ahead, it would be a really clever way of getting around the biggest problem with Cameron’s attempt to renegotiation Britain’s membership of the EU, the core EU principle that EU countries should treat all EU citizens the same. EU leaders were never likely to make a special rule that would discriminate against their citizens if they moved to the UK. By stopping benefits for British workers, Cameron can both satisfy the concerns of EU leaders and claim that his a secured a big concession from them as well.
The obvious problem with any deal like this is that young British workers will be angry about being penalised in order to secure a political deal. But, the Telegraph reports, Cameron has a solution to that as well — he would create a legal backdoor through which to compensate British workers. This payment would come in the form of some sort of social security benefit – though there are no details on exactly how it would work.
Cameron and his renegotiation team have just four weeks to nail down the details of this plan, because they want to have the legal details ready for when EU leaders meet at the European Council summit on February 18. Cameron really needs to secure his recognition then or, British election rules will make it very tricky to hold the EU referendum this year.
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