Podemos Says EU Solidarity Trumps Helping Cameron Dodge `Brexit'

London's Consequences Felt Through EU: Bustinduy
  • EU leaders shouldn't cut workers' right to appease U.K. voters
  • U.K. should accept EU oversight of City of London banks

Podemos, the anti-austerity party seeking to forge a coalition government in Spain, said European Union leaders shouldn’t sacrifice workers’ benefits to help David Cameron keep Britain in the 28-country bloc.

European leaders meet Thursday aiming to finalize a deal that would allow the U.K. to restrict benefits payments to people from other member countries with the British prime minister facing a referendum as soon as June on whether to abandon the EU.

“It’s good thing that they are holding a referendum,” Pablo Bustinduy, head of foreign affairs at Podemos, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s The Pulse with Guy Johnson. “It is not a very good idea is basically to change the rules concerning the social rights, concerning the core of the project of peace, fraternity and solidarity in our nations, which is at the core of the European Union, only for internal political reasons in one country.”

Podemos placed third in Spain’s December election with 69 seats in the 350-strong parliament and has been calling on the second-placed Socialists, with 90 lawmakers, to join a progressive coalition to oust Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party. Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez faces a confidence vote in parliament on March 2 and has been reaching out to a range of parties for support.

Banking Oversight

Of the 200,000 Spanish workers living in the U.K., only about 2,000 are receiving benefits, said Bustinduy, who is a lawmaker in the Spanish parliament.

“It’s not a problem of sustainability, it’s a problem of solidarity,” he said. “It’s a problem, also, to set the precedent of discrimination among workers depending on the country origin.”

Uncertainty over the U.K.’s future status is already rippling through markets and unsettling businesses in the countdown to Thursday’s summit. Investor concern over the prospect of the U.K. leaving the EU, a so-called “Brexit,” helped drive the pound to its lowest level against the euro in more than a year last week.

Bustinduy said he’s also opposed to Cameron’s demands that London banks be given more leeway within the EU’s financial regulations. He said the wide ramifications of financial turmoil in the City mean that the U.K. should submit to oversight.

“The consequences of the problems in the City of London are felt through the whole European Union,” said Bustinduy. “Not having any possibility for those affected by what happens there to have a say about what happens, that’s a problem for sure.”

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