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Cameron's EU rival Juncker delivers another blow to PM

Prime Minister David Cameron has received another blow in his battle with Europe over immigration rules, this time from the man he attempted - in vain - to deny gaining power in the European Commission.

Incoming EC president Jean-Claude Juncker labelled Cameron's bid to change the rules on freedom of movement in Europe as "irresponsible", echoing the stance of his predecessor José Manuel Barroso.

Cameron will tomorrow meet with the leaders of the other 27 nations in the European Union but is expected to face near complete opposition to his proposals to change one of the union's founding principles.

Britain 'set to be sidelined' in Juncker's Euro lineup

Incoming European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker appears to have sidelined the British representative in his new EC college lineup.

The website Euractiv said it has seen a draft version of a presentation which suggests that Britain's Jonathan Hill has been assigned to the energy and climate change brief despite David Cameron asking for a super-commisioner.

Mr Hill will report to Latvian Valdis Dombrovkis, who is the vice president for energy.

The leak also suggests that Germany has been assigned the crucial trade role while France, which asked for the economy position, has instead been given the competition title.


European Commission recommendations for the UK

The European Commission has angered a number of British politicians by offering recommendations on how the British economy could be improved.

The measures set out by the Commission include:

  • raise council tax for those in the most expensive homes
  • increase the housing stock by creating "appropriate incentives" to build homes
  • monitor house prices and "adjust" the Help to Buy scheme if necessary
  • prioritse spending on infrastructure to boost the economic recovery
  • streamline the qualification system to help improve the skills base

John Baron: 'Thank but no thanks' for EU advice

Conservative MP John Baron has the EU should have "more pressing concerns" than offering the UK advice on how to manage its affairs.

Mr Baron, a prominent eurosceptic, was reacting after the EU made a series of recommendations for the UK, including increasing council tax on expensive homes and tweaking the Help to Buy scheme.


Nick Clegg: EU should focus on reforming itself

Nick Clegg has said that the EU should focus on reforming itself rather than offering "lectures" to member states.

The Deputy Prime Minister was speaking after the EU offered the British government a series of policy recommendations, including raising council tax on high-value homes, building more houses and adjusting the Help to Buy scheme.

Treasury: EU housing call 'in line' with UK approach

European Commission calls for the UK to raise taxes on expensive homes, build more housing and "adjust" the Help to Buy scheme are "in line" with government policy, a Treasury spokesman has said.

"The European Commission continues to support the UK Government's strategy including its commitment to deficit reduction. The Commission's recommendations are in line with the Government's approach," the spokesman said.

EU: Tax expensive homes more

General view of a construction site for residential houses in Great Barr, Birmingham. Credit: PA Images

The European Commission has called on Britain to raise taxes on higher value properties, build more houses, and consider "adjusting" the Help to Buy scheme

The European Union's executive body urged the Government to reform the "regressive" council tax system as taxes are relatively higher on low value homes than high value ones.

Setting out its 2014 economic policy recommendations for the UK, the commission also urged the coalition to bring more people into paying tax to aid deficit reduction which has so far been "heavily skewed" to spending cuts.

The recommendations may rankle with some in the wake of Eurosceptic Ukip's victory in the European elections and Prime Minister David Cameron's assessment of the EU as "too big, too bossy, too interfering".

Britain 'must stop blaming immigrants'

Britain's debate on the future of its EU membership is "distorted", the European Commission Vice-President has said.

Viviane Reding, also the EU Justice Commissioner, said British politicians should "work on the quality of education and welfare" rather than blaming immigrants for the country's woes.

I have made my position clear: the four freedoms enshrined in the EU Treaties come as a package.

You either enjoy all of them - or none. Those who benefit from the free flow of capital, goods and services must also accept that our citizens are free to move in the EU to travel, study and work.

And the rules allow Member States to fight abuse of this right.

– Viviane Reding, European Commission Vice-President
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