For immediate release – Tuesday, 2 February 2016
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Statement by Professor Thom Brooks, Professor of Law and Government at Durham University’s Law School and leading immigration law and policy specialist:
“Prime Minister David Cameron has announced his proposed new deal on EU migration will be a hard sell.
Leaked reports of today’s proposals outlined an ‘emergency brake’ that the UK could use to stop EU migrants from claiming benefits for four years and deter growing migration from Europe. It was expected that this would be the UK’s call and not require EU approval.
10 Downing Street set expectations too high – and the fine print shows they will have a difficult time winning over a sceptical public.
The UK cannot pull an emergency brake on benefits for EU migrants without the consent of other EU member states. Cameron’s proposals will require Britain to provide facts and figures to prove ‘exceptional’ pressure on public services by EU migrants – independent of non-EU migrants.
The European Commission and the European Council must be notified in advance for their approval – only then can any brake be applied and limited ‘to the extent necessary’ capped at a maximum of four years. But it can be for much less.
And any brake will be gradual. Cameron’s proposals allow for a ‘graduated’ limitation where EU migrants can enjoy more benefits over time and full benefits when brake ended or in four years’ time. This is a detailed proposal whose nuances are likely to be seized on as weaknesses.
Cameron has done well to get any deal on the table of EU leaders. But his plan lacks the clarity of message of his Eurosceptic opponents. While restricting EU migrant benefits is popular, that it can only be temporary, proportional and at the discretion of the EU is a complex proposal that may prove hard to build public enthusiasm for.
Cameron’s immigration policy is known for being a trunk full of empty gestures and gimmicks. And the big problem now is that negotiations rarely lead to no change or greater controls. These measures may well be watered down further in the weeks ahead further undermining the proposals as the fundamental change we were promised.”
NB – Please note that Professor Brooks is a member of the Labour Party.
Professor Thom Brooks, Professor of Law and Government, in Durham Law School, Durham University, is available for comment on Tuesday, 2 February and Wednesday, 3 February 2016, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively please contact Durham University Marketing and Communications Office on +44 (0)191 334 6075; email@example.com
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Letter by President Donald Tusk to the Members of the European Council on his proposal for a new settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/02/02-letter-tusk-proposal-new-settlement-uk/
Professor Thom Brooks, Durham University Law School website https://www.dur.ac.uk/law/staff/?id=11140
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