EU Benefits Proposals Won't Deter Migrants to U.K., Barroso Says

European Union proposals to allow the U.K. to cut welfare benefits to new migrants from other member states won’t deter job seekers from heading to Britain, former president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said.

EU President Donald Tusk on Feb. 2 issued plans that would grant Britain a four-year “emergency brake,” allowing it to suspend the payment of in-work benefits to new arrivals. The proposal was aimed at meeting one of Prime Minister David Cameron’s core demands in his renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the 28-nation bloc.

“People that want to go to Britain, if the basic rights of the people are ensured, they will be willing to go, but of course with slightly different conditions,” Barroso said late Tuesday in an interview on British Broadcasting Corp.’s “Newsnight” television show.

Asked if the measures would deter migrants, he said: “No, frankly not -- it depends now on the conditions of the labor market.”

Cameron made concessions on welfare one of four pillars of his talks with fellow EU leaders. He’s trying to win approval for the deal at a Feb. 18-19 summit in Brussels. That would allow him to hold a U.K. referendum on staying in the EU as early as June 23.

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