The EU has not agreed to the UK’s request to cease paying Child Benefit to children of migrants to the UK who do not live in our country. Instead the EU proposes an amendment to Regulation 883/2004 (one of the regulations that prevent us having the welfare system we want). This would give member states an option “with regard to the exportation (sic) of Child Benefit to a member state other than where the worker resides, an option to index such benefits to the standard of living in the member state where the child resides”
This is not clear. Does it mean we would have to pay 80% of our Child Benefit to a country whose living standards were 80% of ours? Does it mean we would have to pay more child benefit than we get to Luxembourg where average earnings are higher than in the UK? Some think it means we could pay the level of Child Benefit received in the host country where the child is living. In that case we would have large savings on Child Benefit in most of the eastern members of the EU, but would be paying more for migrants from Germany or Denmark.
What is clear is we will not be allowed to simply discontinue paying Child Benefit to non UK resident children.
Nor has the EU agreed a simple ban on benefits to newly arrived migrants for the first four years after their arrival. Not only is there the elaborate process of the emergency brake, but also the requirement that over the first four years of any migrants stay we would gradually increase payments to them so that by the four year mark they are already at full benefit levels.
When it comes to protecting the UK from EU controls on the Euro and financial institutions, again there is legal complexity and lack of clarity. The government wanted an assurance that the Uk will continue to regulate and control the City, and keep away from Euro area controls and regulations. Instead the text includes the following important qualification:
“without prejudice to Union mechanisms of macro-prudential oversight for the prevention and mitigation of systemic financial risks in the Union and to the existing powers of the Union institutions to take action that is necessary to respond to threats to financial stability”.
So the main problem remains. What authority will the UK preserve over its important financial sector, and how much will the rules and controls comes from the EU?