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January 28, 2023
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European Council President Tusk: Safeguard mechanism on social benefits currently not applicable in UK

Touring several European capitals ahead of the EU summit scheduled on Thursday and Friday, for the final round of consultations on Brexit and the migration crisis, European Council President Donald Tusk met President Klaus Iohannis on Monday evening in Bucharest.

“It will be a crucial summit, we cannot afford to fail on any of these two important issues. It’s a critical moment, it’s time to listen to the arguments of the others before our arguments,” Tusk emphasised at the joint press statement with the Romanian Head of State.

In his turn, President Iohannis outlined among other things that Romania considers that it is very important for the United Kingdom to remain a member of the European Union. “United Kingdom needs the EU and the EU needs United Kingdom.”

Ahead of the meeting of the Council of the European Union, President Tusk has already met UK Premier David Cameron, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, and French President Francois Hollande. He has also scheduled meetings with Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The safeguard mechanism on social benefits is not currently applicable to EU citizens working in the United Kingdom, European Council President Donald Tusk declared after a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Monday in Bucharest.

President Tusk acknowledged the importance of social benefits for Romania and other European countries. He insisted on the fact that the safeguard mechanism on social benefits is not applicable to citizens of EU countries who already work in the UK. The proposal he presented in Bucharest – which he qualified as just and balanced – is aimed at protecting the freedom of movement, while helping the United Kingdom settle its concern on the access to social benefits, he explained.

According to Tusk, the meeting of the European Council this weekend will be crucial for the matter, as the agenda includes the greatest challenges to the EU: UK’s membership and the migration crisis.

It is a critical moment, he admitted; there is a real risk of breakup of the Union, and only UK citizens can decide their country’s future in the European Union, but there will be no compromise on the fundamental freedoms and values.

It is only natural to see tougher positions as the decision time nears, but it’s also time to pay more attention to the arguments of all sides, as broken things are hard to remedy, Tusk concluded.


President Iohannis: Rights of Romanian nationals working in UK should not be called into question

Romania supports the observance of the free movement and non-discrimination of workers, President Klaus Iohannis said on Monday evening, at a joint press conference with the visiting President of the European Council Donald Tusk; he pointed out that the rights of the Romanian nationals in the United Kingdom to social benefits should not be called into question.

“In reference to the fourth section of the package [editor’s note: proposed by the President of the European Council], the freedom of movement and the social benefits, we shall further support the importance of observing the fundamental principles on the free movement and non-discrimination of workers. The rights of the Romanian nationals working in United Kingdom or in other [EU] member countries as regards their access to social benefits should not be called into question,” said Iohannis.

He explained that in the package regarding the UK that is to be addressed at the European Council this weekend, a safeguard mechanism is proposed to allow a short-term limitation of the access to certain types of UK-specific social benefits for the EU citizens who wish to enter the labour market.

“I stressed that for Romania it is important firstly that the safeguard mechanism be non-discriminatory, not have an exceptional character, and be as limited in time as possible. It’s enforcement should be based on pertinent justifications,” the head of state said.

According to Iohannis, an arbitrary enforcement of these measures upon other categories of benefits should be avoided; only non-contributive benefits should be considered.


Donald Tusk: Migration crisis testing EU to the limit; It is important to protect external borders

President of the European Council Donald Tusk also stated on Monday that migration is testing the limits of the European Union and highlighted the importance of protecting the external borders of the EU.

“The migratory crisis we are witnessing now is testing our Union to its limits. This week, I want leaders to engage in an honest discussion on where we stand on all the elements of our strategy. The most important is the protection of our external borders to contain the flow of migrants. Likewise, we must step up the return of economic migrants. We must increase our humanitarian assistance to Syria’s neighbouring countries. We must make sure our agreement with Turkey works and delivers a very significant drop in numbers of arrivals; something we are still waiting to see. We must urgently address the humanitarian situation of migrants in Greece and along the Western Balkans route. So, I am afraid we have a lot of work ahead of us,” Tusk stated after his meeting with President Klaus Iohannis.

Tusk also stressed that EU countries must do everything in their power to overcome all challenges.

In his turn, President Klaus Iohannis noted that the situation created by migration flows within the EU continues to be a major challenge.

The head of state also stressed the fact that Romania wants to contribute in a constructive way to finding solutions for the crisis.

“We are maintaining the position according to which we must tackle the profound causes and not only combat the effects. The accent must be put on implementing decisions already taken at a European level to combat illegal migration, the efficient protection of EU borders, external borders, nota bene, of the EU, but also on cooperation with states of origin and transit. In this context it is necessary to implement as fast as possible the EU-Turkey action plan,” Iohannis stated.

He stressed that “an efficient policy of repatriating people who are not entitled to asylum must represent an essential component of the process of managing migration.”

“We expressed the hope that member states will invest all necessary efforts to preserve the Schengen Area, one of the most important achievements of European integration. Despite the current context, which determined certain member states to reintroduce border control within the Schengen Area, we hope that these are temporary and exceptional, so that the freedom of movement within the EU is not affected,” President Iohannis stated.

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