Polish minister attacks David Cameron's child benefit plan
- 6 January 2014
- From the section UK Politics
Poland's foreign minister has criticised David Cameron's call for a change to European Union treaties to allow the withdrawal of child benefit from migrants working in the UK.
Writing on Twitter, Radoslaw Sikorski asked: "If Britain gets our taxpayers, shouldn't it also pay their benefits?"
He added that Polish taxpayers should not "subsidise" UK taxpayers' children.
Mr Cameron has said "we need to crack down on" EU immigrants motivated by higher benefits payments in the UK.
EU citizens working in the UK are currently able to claim child benefit, even if their children live abroad.
On Sunday, the PM told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show that he would try to renegotiate the UK's membership with the EU to allow it to withhold child benefit in these circumstances.
Mr Cameron had singled out people from Poland as he made the case for change.
But Mr Sikorski tweeted: "If Britain gets our taxpayers, shouldn't it also pay their benefits? Why should Polish taxpayers subsidise British taxpayers' children?"
He added: "UK social security rules apply to all resident EU citizens. No need to stigmatise Poles. What about British children abroad?"
He subsequently told the BBC that he sympathised with Mr Cameron's efforts "to plug loopholes" in the benefits system, and denied that Poland had already decided it would veto the move.
The Polish government would "consider every British government proposal very seriously", he said.
But, he argued, this was a pan-EU rule which also benefited UK citizens living in other European countries.
If the UK wanted to make the benefits system less generous, Mr Sikorski said, it should do so "in a non-discriminatory manner and without stigmatising people".
He said Polish people contributed about double the amount to the British economy than they withdrew in benefits.
No 10's official spokesman said: "The prime minister's view won't have changed. He set it out in yesterday's media interview.
"It is one of the points he made in his speech on migration in March last year. It remains the prime minister's long-standing view."