EU 'already has very strong safeguards' against benefits tourism

The European Commission will scrutinise any planned UK rule changes on immigrants' access to benefits, a spokesman said today.

"The commission would have to scrutinise those proposals to make sure they were fully compatible with free movement of workers, rights of residence and social security co-ordination," said Jonathon Todd, spokesman for employment and social affairs Commissioner Laszlo Andor.

Asked about Mr Cameron's determination to end the "something for nothing" culture, Mr Todd responded: "There are existing very strong safeguards which have been agreed by all member states including the UK, which exist in EU law to prevent social benefit tourism.

"You can only claim social security benefits if you are working in another member state, or are a family member of someone working in another member state, or are habitually resident in that member state."

He added: "The vast majority of people who move to another member state do so to work, not to claim benefits."