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British PM brushes off Poland's criticism of anti-EU immigration stance

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 24.12.2013 10:05
David Cameron's office in Downing Street says that the UK prime minister will continue to push for changes in EU immigration rules despite protests from Lech Walesa and others.

No 10 Downing Street in London under fore over EU stance: photo - wikicommons

"Prime Minister Cameron thinks that the government should draw lessons from the mistakes of the previous Labour government on immigration and in the future will introduce tighter transition periods," a statement by the British Prime Minister's Office said on Monday evening.

"In the meantime, he will ensure that people come to the UK to work and not just to apply for benefits," a Downing Street spokesman said.

The statement comes after Solidarity legend and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa, leader of Poland's largest opposition party Jaroslaw Kaczynski and others criticized the British government leader's remarks at a summit in Brussels last week that opening the UK's labour market to Poles was a "huge mistake".

Cameron also pledged to try and change EU immigration rules ahead of Romanians and Bulgarians being given the right to go and work in the UK from 1 January.

"Poles finished communism [in 1989] and Great Britain profited significantly," Walesa told the TVN 24 news channel on Monday and accused the British PM of behaving "irrationally and shortsightedly".

Former Polish prime minister and Law and Justice (PiS) leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski wrote an open letter to David Cameron in protest against his anti-immigration remarks.

Law and Justice spokesman Marcin Mastalerek said Kaczynski's letter expressed that Cameron's remarks were "unacceptable"

Law and Justice MEP Ryszard Czarnecki added that "Britain has earned billions of pounds due to the fact that Poles have been working there for the last 10 years."

Though Cameron's Conservative party has emphasized that they want to change rules so EU immigrants will not be able to avail themselves fully to Britain's welfare payments system, a report released in October this year by consultants ICF-GHK found that unemployed EU migrants form just 1 percent of the total EU population and in the UK the figure was 1.2 percent in 2011 and 2012.

"The study found little evidence in the literature and stakeholder consultations to suggest that the main motivation of EU citizens to migrate and reside in a different member state is benefit-related, as opposed to work or family-related", the report concluded. (pg)

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