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David Cameron 'must flesh out' plans for EU migrant benefits curb

Published 27/11/2015

Enda Kenny was among those at the British Irish Council summit
Enda Kenny was among those at the British Irish Council summit
David Cameron wants the EU to agree to restrictions on the right of migrants to claim benefits

David Cameron will need to explain how his plans for restricting European Union migrants' access to benefits can fit in with freedom of movement rules when he meets fellow leaders next month, Enda Kenny has said.

The Taoiseach said the future of the EU would be "enhanced" by the people of Britain voting to say in the 28-member bloc in the referendum promised by David Cameron before the end of 2017.

But he said the Prime Minister will have to "flesh out" his plans and indicated there were concerns among European leaders about the proposal to ban EU migrants from claiming in-work benefits in the UK until they have lived and contributed in the country for four years.

Speaking after the British Irish Council summit in London, he said: "Clearly Europe will be stronger with Britain and Britain will be stronger with Europe."

Mr Kenny added: "The future of the European Union will be very much enhanced by the people of Britain deciding to vote to stay within the union for the future."

The Prime Minister's proposals will be discussed in Brussels at a summit next month, but Mr Kenny said further talks may be needed beyond the December meeting.

The proposal that people coming to Britain from the EU must live in the country and contribute for four years before they qualify for in-work benefits or social housing could be the main stumbling block.

But the Prime Minister has also indicated that he is "open to different ways" of dealing with the issue of curbing EU migration.

Mr Kenny said: "This is a really complex issue and one that is a difficulty for everybody. I would like to think that when the Prime Minister comes to the European Council meeting in Brussels he will flesh out exactly what he means about this and the implications for the movement of people, given that the freedom of movement is one of the the European Union's fundamental principles."

He added that th is is "one set of issues on which we will be focusing much attention at the European Council meeting in December" but it was not possible to say whether those talks would be concluded.

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