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Austrian minister backs brake on benefits for EU migrants

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Sebastian Kurz. Photo: ÖVP
09:56 CET+01:00
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz plans to back British Prime Minister David Cameron's proposed changes to child support benefits EU-wide and wants to go even further by implementing the suggestions immediately in Austria.

If agreed by the 28 EU leaders at a crunch summit in Brussels later this month, Britain would be able to impose temporary restrictions on EU workers' access to in-work benefits, including tax credits.

Under the plans, EU migrants would be barred from claiming in-work benefits for the first two years after arriving in the UK and would then see benefits tapered in over the next two years. There will also be restrictions on child benefits paid back to the claimant's own country so that they are limited to the same rate the person would receive at home.

The measures, part of Cameron's bid to renegotiate Britain's status in the EU, are due to be voted on shortly and in an interview with the Kurier newspaper, Sebastian Kurz said he wanted Austria's Chancellor Werner Faymann to not only agree, but also that Austria should be allowed to implement the changes immediately.

The new rules being negotiated would apply to all EU member states and authority over whether they could be used would lie with EU governments and not with the EU in Brussels.

Kurz has backed the British demands right from the start, despite criticism within Austria based on the argument that it was not in line with European law.

"Every year Austria pays €230 million in child support to children who do not live in Austria. In Romania, child support is only €15 per month. For two children, a Romanian family gets €300 (from Austria). That is the average salary in Romania," Kurz said.

"Of course, I am an advocate for the freedom of movement (where to settle). But I am not in favour of being able to choose which social security system you want to use. I am in favour of Austria attracting high achievers but not in favour of people who are just in search of the most favourable social systems. The new conditions give us the possibility to use this opportunity," he added.

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Story courtesy of Central European News.

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