EU migrants and benefits: frequently (and some less frequently) asked questions

Whatever Cameron and co say, changing the rules around EU migrants benefits is no more than hot air at the moment. Some significant hurdles will have to be jumped over before any change can be achieved.

Second reading

Last Friday the Prime Minister delivered his long-awaited speech on immigration. He set out ambitious plans to secure agreement on changes to European law on free movement in order to allow the UK to, among other things, deny EU migrants in-work benefits for four years and prevent Child Benefit being paid for children living abroad. Proposals to restrict EU migrants’ access to benefits have also been put forward by Labour and by the Liberal Democrats.

EU immigration has been at the top of the political agenda in the UK almost continuously for the past twelve months. There has been intense, and not always well-informed, debate about what EU law requires Member States to do as regards migrants’ access to welfare, about what might be done to limit who gets what, and how it might be achieved. In this blog, I look at some of the more frequently asked…

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One thought on “EU migrants and benefits: frequently (and some less frequently) asked questions

  1. That is based on the understanding that EU law is always superior to national law in all cases.

    That has been the understanding up to now *but it is not guaranteed*. EU law is only given power by virtue of the gift of national parliaments. A national parliament suitably irritated can simply derogate from EU law whenever it feels like it and instruct its own judiciary to ignore certain EU decisions or directives. Quite a few political parties across the EU are suggesting this approach to getting what they want (Italy has a few wanting an overriding ‘full employment’ act that frees Italy from any EU obligations until that is achieved).

    The doctrine of jurisprudence in quasi-federal institutions has an interesting history. In the early days of the US constitution several of the states overrode federal law, and that is in a country where the superiority of federal law is actually in the treaty (AIUI it isn’t in the EU treaty) and they were trying to create a new country!

    I’ve read a couple of articles by jurisprudence experts who find it very interesting that the EU is the first of these constructions where the constituent entities have acquiesced so easily.

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