Responding to today’s letter to the Prime Minister and Members of the European Council from President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, Jean Lambert said:
“I fervently oppose the possibilities for restricting access to in work benefits for four years for EU nationals working in the UK, who have been proved to be net contributors to the UK economy – the evidence simply does not exist that there is widespread or systematic abuse of the UK’s benefits system by EU nationals and I challenge the UK Government to publish the data to prove its case. Reducing the future of the UK’s position in the EU to a debate around in work benefits for EU nationals is nothing short of pathetic and will have many negative repercussions for our reputation within the EU. However, now that David Cameron thinks he has won the argument and has a solution to an almost non-existent ‘problem’ I hope that we can now move on to debate the questions which really matter both for the UK and the EU as a whole.
“Today the European Parliament has discussed some of the real pressing issues we are facing such as how we can work with our European neighbours, and globally to humanely deal with the biggest movement of people since the end of the second world war. MEPs also voted today to oppose any revision of the Birds and Habitats Directives and reinforce the EU’s central role defending wildlife and nature in the UK. The EU is not perfect, but is essential for tackling issues which individual countries cannot solve alone and I will be arguing for the UK to remain a strong and positive force within it.”