EU, Cameron Extend Brexit Talks

EU, Cameron Extend Brexit Talks
EU, Cameron Extend Brexit Talks

Brussels has agreed that the UK could temporarily limit welfare payments to EU migrants, according to British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office. However, talks with European Council President Donald Tusk still have much to cover.

A statement from Cameron’s office late on Sunday said the European Union agreed that Britain could use an “emergency brake” to curb welfare payments to EU migrants immediately, DW reported.

“On welfare, the commission have tabled a text making clear that the UK’s current circumstances meet the criteria for triggering the emergency brake,” said the Downing Street statement. “This is a significant breakthrough.”

Top EU officials had on Friday offered Britain the mechanism–known as an “emergency brake”–to allow the UK to temporarily limit tax credits under certain criteria. However, it had remained unclear whether the criteria would be met.

Under the measure, tax credits–given to workers in low-paid jobs–and housing benefit would be limited, with the intention of helping stem immigration from within the EU.

However, Tusk and Cameron agreed to continue talks on Monday, after failing to reach a comprehensive deal on all four areas–also known as “baskets”–for reform.

The European Council president has said he will circulate proposals to other EU countries early this week, if sufficient progress is made.

Tusk’s proposals are expected to clarify the progress made and the work to be carried out ahead of the February leaders’ meeting.

Under the British government’s proposals, benefits would be denied to workers arriving from other EU countries for up to four years.

Leaders from other EU nations, particularly a number of eastern European states, say that would be discriminatory and threaten freedom of movement within the EU.

German politicians, however, have recently considered similar measures, albeit with a shorter period of ineligibility for welfare payments.

A meeting between Cameron and Angela Merkel is planned in Hamburg on February 12.