EU ready to discuss UK migrant curbs 'calmly and carefully'

28th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

The European Union is ready to discuss British Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to curb welfare for EU migrants but any debate must be pursued "calmly and carefully", a spokesman said Friday.

"These are UK ideas and they are part of the debate, they would have to be examined without drama and should be discussed calmly and carefully," European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said, reading out a statement in response to a speech by Cameron.

"We have to see what can be done without shutting the door."

He added that EU law allowed governments to fight abuses of the benefits system.

Cameron spoke with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker by telephone before the speech, Schinas said, adding that he was unable to give further details.

In his speech, the British premier promised tough curbs on welfare for EU migrants to counter a surge in arrivals and warned failure to get his way could be a deal-breaker for Britain staying in Europe in a referendum planned for 2017.

The reforms include making EU workers wait four years to receive in-work benefits such as tax credits and social housing but stop short of a mooted cap on new arrivals which would have breached EU freedom of movement laws.

Cameron said the reforms would require changes to the EU's founding treaties, a process that involves consensus by all 28 nations in the bloc, but said he was confident he could negotiate them.

© 2014 AFP

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