Cameron 'makes views on child benefits clear' with Polish PM
David Cameron has "made clear his long-standing view" on making changes to child benefit being paid to families abroad in a phone call with his Polish counterpart. Donald Tusk had accused him of 'singling out' Poles for criticism.
The temperature rather ratcheted up earlier today when the Polish prime minister in a press conference said that he was speaking to Mr Cameron at the Prime Minister's request and he expected it to be a rather unpleasant conversation because he was very angry.
As you'd expect, the read out afterwards is a little bit more temperate than that - I don't think either side wants a full-blown diplomatic incident on this issue.
That said, I don't think there's any doubt that the Polish prime minister is pretty angry - he feels that his countrymen come here, they work hard, they pay taxes and he thinks it is very, very unfair to stigmatise them.
Of course, this is a complex issue. He feels that Mr Cameron is saying what he is saying entirely for domestic political consumption, and the reality of this situation is that the freedom of movement of people to work is an absolute founding principle of modern Europe.
The question of benefits is a different one, and I think that even the Polish think that is a fair subject of debate, but there's no doubt tonight that Mr Cameron is not conducting the debate in a manner that they approve of.
David Cameron and the Polish prime minister have agreed to hold further discussions on the impact of EU free movement on child benefit payments.
The Prime Minister called Donald Tusk this afternoon "to discuss co-operation on a range of bilateral and EU issues", Downing Street said:
The Prime Minister made clear his long-standing view, reiterated in recent days, that the lack of transitional controls for new EU member states in 2004 was the wrong approach and had put pressure on local communities; and that we need to address the impact on countries’ benefits systems, including for example paying child benefit to families living abroad.
This is how the Prime Minister's comments on restricting child benefits for Polish migrants in the UK is playing out in the Polish press:
The mass-circulation Gazeta Wyborcza says that Cameron's comments have caused an "uproar" and that any savings made by denying Polish migrants child benefits would be "negligible"
The Warsaw Voice reports that Poland's main opposition party, Law and Justice, could pull out of a coalition of euroskeptic members of the European Parliament - which includes Tories - in protest at David Cameron's comments.
An opinion piece in the Warsaw Business Journal says that Cameron is seeking to weaken one of Europe's founding principles - the free movement of people.
The Prime Minister has caused a political storm in Poland by saying it is "wrong" for migrants working in the UK to claim benefits for children living in their home country.
In an interview with the BBC on Sunday, he said:
It's a situation that I inherited. I think you can change it, I think it will take time because we either have to change it by getting agreement with other European countries, and there are European countries who, like me, think it's wrong that someone from Poland who comes here and works hard - and I'm absolutely all in favour of that - but I don't think we should be paying child benefit to their family back at home.
Poland's prime minister Donald Tusk said Poland would fight the UK any changes to EU rules aimed at reducing welfare payments for any particular nationality rather than applying equally to citizens of all EU member states:
We will not agree to it if these are changes that would stigmatise any particular national minority.
Nobody has the right to single out Poles as a particular group that abuses or exploits something.
David Cameron had said he wanted new EU rules to limit access for migrants to their host countries' welfare payments, and pointed to Poles as an example of the potential for the rules to be abused.