Poland’s foreign advisor, Krzysztof Szczerski, said a deal on Britain’s renegotiated terms of EU membership will only be achieved if the 600,000 Poles currently residing in Britain are allowed to retain access to benefits.
“We cannot accept retrospective legislation,” he said. “Those that are in the system and part of the system cannot have their rights taken away.”
Poland has accepted the principle of a minimum four-year emergency brake on work benefits, but their refusal to accept a cut in benefits that applies to Poles already working in the UK shows how tough negotiations have been and how a deal might have a limited impact on migration, reported the Guardian.
Szczerski also said that his government, led by the rightwing Law and Justice party, was prepared to accept that new Polish child benefit claimants working in the UK should not be able to claim benefits at UK rates for its children still in Poland, as long as issues of indexation were resolved.
As reported by The Guardian, the talks in Brussels may well focus on whether the so-called British emergency brake temporarily depriving EU migrants of access to in-work benefits is seen as an effective way of controlling migration in to the UK.
“The Polish people in this country are not benefit seekers,” said Szczerski. “Nearly 93% of Poles are either studying or working so they are contributing rather than benefiting from the system. We have to protect the rights of those already in the system.”