Ireland to Curb Benefits for New EU Workers
Ireland has indicated that it may introduce welfare restrictions on workers coming from the new EU member states after enlargement.
Irish Premier Bertie Ahern said his government had to ensure that the country's social wefare system and other public services would not be abused by EU workers. "We will, therefore, put in place measures to prevent abuse of the social welfare system," he said. Ireland's change of position follows hot on the heels of their island neighbors, the UK, where Home Secretary David Blunkett announced plans to cope with migrants after May. With most other EU nations imposing restrictions, the home secretary said "it makes sense that our approach will not leave us exposed. People who come here from accession countries but do not work will not be able to claim benefits." That restriction will last until at least 2006. However, neither Dublin nor London have yet applied restrictions to the numbers of those coming in to find work. Other countries, such as Germany and Austria, have indicated that they could avail themselves of the up to seven years legal allowance to restrict the number of workers from the eight central and eastern European countries.