The European Union has outlined new benefits reforms delayed by the Brexit campaign. The proposal clarifies rights for EU expatriate workers and their host nations.
The European Commission introduced a raft of new measures to overhaul jobless benefits for foreigners, a key issue for those who bemoan “benefit tourism.” The proposals had been delayed for nearly a year as Brussels hoped to stop Britain from leaving the European Union.
Many have pointed to anti-migrant sentiment, and allegations that some people move to certain EU countries just to claim benefits, as a key component of the Brexit victory.
“We need labor mobility to help restore economic growth and competitiveness. But mobility needs to be based on clear, fair and enforceable rules,” said European Social Affairs Commission Marianne Thyssen after unveiling the draft legislation. She added that the new law “safeguards free movement and protects citizens’ rights, while strengthening the tools to address possible abuse.”
“To sum up in one word, it’s about fairness.”
The new system is based on the principle that freedom of movement for workers does not extend to the economically inactive. The unemployed must now wait longer before making joblessness claims in a new country, and workers who cross a border every day for work – like many do from Belgium and France into Luxembourg – can only receive unemployment benefits from where they work instead of where they live.
Conspicuously missing from the package was a much-sought measure by former British Prime Minister David Cameron to limit benefits claims for children. The proposal now moves on to the European Parliament to be debated by member states before it can become law.