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Thursday 30 May 2013

EU Benefits Row No Shock Horror

As if anyone needed to know how clueless the Tories are on the issue that is causing them to scrap like ferrets in a sack once again, along comes an argument over something EU related to put them straight – and remind them how most of the Fourth Estate is incapable of mentioning the subject without descending into a jibbering froth. What has caused the latest outrage is benefits.
There is supposed to be a standard EU-wide test for deciding whether nationals from other member states are entitled to claim benefits. The argument is over the allegation that the UK is imposing an additional test, and it is being suggested that this is denying benefits to many who are entitled to them – like child tax credit, which, hacks take note, is an in-work benefit.

The whole business could end up in the European Court of Justice (ECJ), but the European Commission (EC) ruling has not been made public, so that is all we know thus far. But the press cannot merely report what is known and exercise patience, when there is EU bashing to do, and neither can the more excitable elements in the Tory Party, which apparently now include Iain Duncan Cough.

Anyone who gets off a plane will be able to start claiming benefits immediatelya Government source has told the Mail (so remember, foreign speaking folks, don't use ferries or the tunnel if you want handouts), which, alongside a photo of Duncan Cough, who says “he will not 'cave in' to the European Commission”, gives readers a pretty obvious hint as to the source.

And the language is loaded: “claim benefits when they arrive ... people arriving in the UK to ‘rinse’ the benefits system ... will not be dictated to by Europe ... benefits tourism”. And the Mail signs off with the priceless “The meddling of unelected figures in UK immigration rules is also likely to provoke public fury”. Yeah, like Paul Bloody Dacre and his hacks. And their pals at the Express.

The news is sure to put additional pressure on the Prime Minister”, observes Dirty Des’ supposedly upmarket title. But what neither title is letting its readers know is that this whole business just underlines the mentality that takes all the upsides of the EU for granted and then carps about everything else. Indeed, while the outrage is being stoked up on benefits, one other story is going almost unreported.

Fortunately, the BBC has picked up on a dispute concerning Spanish health services not always honouring the EU “Health Card”. The EU stepping in to defend visitors from other member states – ten million a year from the UK alone – receives no shock horror treatment, and, it seems thus far, no newspaper coverage at all. No objection is raised to EU action when the boot is on the other foot.

What you will not read in most papers today. No change there, then.


Anonymous said...

Any update on the Olive Oil rules?


Tim Fenton said...

Abandoned. Will not go ahead.

Anonymous said...

The EU is after our vacuum cleaners now.

Tim Fenton said...

That article is hilarious, thanks.

SteveB said...

So how come Dyson didn't bring their problem to public/ media/ Government attention during the consulation phase? Are they just desperate for a plug (apart from the one fitted) or did someone cock up badly?

Anyway, back to the main point. And I was losing the plot trying to keep up with the Beeb this morning. At one point they suddenly announce that the UK rule in question goes back to 1994 and to prove it went live by Skype to Peter Lilley (remember him?) speaking from whichever crypt he inhabits. (he may not be actually dead but he did look like he'd slept in a crypt). He gives his reasons for introducing the rule and that's that. But hang on a minute, if the problem is Lilleys 19 year old regulation how come no-one has raised it before? Something's wrong here. Lilley also mentioned that Germany has tougher rules, something which the Beebs Europe specialist confirmed whilst trying to explain (I think) that the complaint about the UK is not the rules but the way the claim is assessed. After about an hour of people coming and going I still wasn't sure what was happening.

In the middle of all this they lobbed the EHIC story which went from 3rd in the running order, to not there at all, to 1st within the space of about 3 hours. I've long been convinced that the EHIC is more trouble than it's worth, the only real beneficeries are the insurance companies who can claim your failure to use one invalidates your claim. The different processes in each country (
print them off before you leave, it''l be too late when you need it!) make it a nightmare to follow. All I can say is if the German health system is as complicated as it seems I'm glad I don't live there - it makes the NHS reforms almost look sensible. But one thing that is clear is that you have to be a short term visitor and not a resident, some of those complaining did seem to know their way around extremely well. Have ex-pats been trying it on?

Anonymous said...

Sorry to go back to the vacuum cleaner but it's hilarious AND mind bogglingly contradictory.
"No one from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was available for comment."
Followed immediately by a comment from Defra