UK: New EU Reforms Proposed

Mr. Donald Tusk (European Council President) is proposing new reforms to be implemented at EU level, in the wake of the anticipated EU referendum set to be held in the UK, before the end of  2017. The proposals will be discussed in Brussels in two weeks” time where the UK Prime Minister will be hoping to get agreement from all EU member states which could pave the way for the UK to vote in favour of remaining in the EU.

The proposed changes include a dramatic narrowing of the scope of free movement envisaged under EU Freedom of Movement Regulations, combined with the granting of the power by the UK to apply an emergency break. These twin restrictions would be the first time the UK would be able to exclude family members of EU citizens, from the application of free movement law and/or exclude them from access to in-work public benefits.

European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker addressed the draft in a speech to the European Parliament saying: “The settlement recognises this- it recognises that if the United Kingdom considered that it is now at the limit of its level of integration then that is fine. At the same time it makes clear that other member states can move towards a deeper degree of integration as they see fit. In this way we have addressed the Prime Ministers concern while respecting the treaties”.

Despite criticism towards David Cameron”s reforms his intention is to encourage UK voters to stay in the EU, with many agreeing this is essential for Britain”s trade, economic growth and national security, which would be more secure as part of a bloc. With the polls currently suggesting a 50/50 split in votes for opting in or out of the EU, if these reforms are put through we could see a greater shift in votes for staying in the EU.

What does this mean for EU citizens and their family members?

What does this mean for EU citizens and their family members?

Third country nationals residing in the UK, irrespective of their immigration status, could not legalise their status under EU law, when marrying a European Union citizen. EU citizens working and living in the UK would not have access to public benefits for a period of 4 years. However, EU citizens would continue to be able to export child benefits to a child living in another member state of the EU, with the amount of child benefit reduced in consideration of the standard of living in the Member State where the child resides.

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