The European Commission may refer the
to the UK EU Court
over English tests for migrants, said European Union (EU) Commissioner Laszlo
Andor on Friday.
In a Twitter question and answer session on the free movement of workers in the EU, the Hungarian Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion said the EU Commission had already referred the
to the UK EU Court and would, “… look at [the] latest
measures and act again if necessary.”
In reference to the
response to concerns over Bulgarian and Romanian migrants, the Commissioner
said, “[The] UK should avoid
rhetoric and measures that run risk of [the] being seen by others as nasty.” UK
In January, the
will see the lifting of restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers, a move
which has garnered widespread opposition from Conservative MPs. UK
“Responsible politicians should avoid legitimising xenophobic reactions that indeed weaken the European spirit,” said Mr Andor.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith earlier this week announced further benefits restrictions for both EU and non-EU migrants, and returning British citizens who have been living abroad.
Under the new habitual resident test, only migrants who are able to pass a series of tests, including an English test, will have access to benefits.
“The British public are rightly concerned that migrants should contribute to this country and not be drawn here by the attractiveness of our benefits system and we are taking action to ensure that is the case,” said Mr Iain Smith.
The tougher restrictions will go ahead next week regardless of
calls to drop the plans, which could see the face court action on the basis of
“[The] EU already has very clear rules - the Habitual Residence Test. [The]
it (like all other Member States),” said Mr Andor. UK
habitual resident test is being legally challenged by the European
Commission for allegedly unfairly and unlawfully denying EU migrants access to unemployment
and family welfare benefits, among other allowances. UK
The Commission believes the test to be discriminatory and not in line with European free movement legislation.
UK’s efforts to deter so-called benefit tourists have drawn some support from other EU member states, including Austria, the Netherlands
Yet the EU Commission has dismissed the concerns as scaremongering, with the Germany having
failed to provide evidence of abuse. UK
Mr Andor said, “No EU country has given any hard evidence that widespread or systematic benefit tourism exists.”