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UK's Cameron fails to carve out deal with Poland on welfare curbs

British Prime Minister David Cameron has been in the Polish capital, Warsaw, on the latest leg of his mission to renegotiate Britain's membership of the EU. Poland and Britain remain at odds over welfare payments.

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said on Thursday that no agreement had been reached with Cameron on limiting welfare payments to EU migrants in the UK.
Cameron has pledged to reform Britain's membership of the EU, but has come up against resistance from eastern European leaders over his welfare plans.
The British leader wants to deny new EU migrants welfare and in-work benefits for four years - challenging the EU principle of non-discrimination between citizens of member states.
Cameron has laid out to Brussels four key areas in which Britain is seeking reforms.

Certain limits to freedom of movement within the EU deemed most important of all by eurosceptics within Cameron's own Conservative Party.

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But while Szydlo said she and Cameron were united on a number of issues, she added that welfare proposals - and the impact they might have on freedom of movement - were not among them.

"There are issues on which there is not a full agreement between us," said Szydlo, who was receiving her first visit from a foreign leader since coming to power last month. "This is, among others, the issue of welfare benefits."
"The free movement of people is a key point for Poland," she added.
British PM still hopeful
However, when asked whether Poland would ever accept Cameron's proposal for the four-year benefits ban, Szydlo did not respond. Hundreds of thousands of Poles who live and work in the UK would stand to lose out under any such reforms.
An optimistic Cameron said he believed a deal could be reached that would limit migration flows to Britain, which critics say places pressure on public services.

"We are looking for agreement," Cameron said. "We haven't achieved that agreement yet, but I think what you've heard from the prime minister here in Poland, as from other leaders, is that there's goodwill, there's wanting to keep Britain within a reformed European Union."

Some common ground
The eurosceptic Polish government,

which came to power last month, sympathizes many of Cameron's criticisms of the EU, sharing his opposition to ever-deeper integration. Szydlo's Law and Justice (Pis) party are in the same European Parliament group as Cameron's Conservatives.

The British prime minister is on a short visit to eastern Europe, having also spoken to his Romanian counterpart Dacian Ciolos on Wednesday in Bucharest about the proposed curbing of benefits.
Cameron is seeking favors from individual leaders in his bid to win concessions from Brussels ahead of a planned referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU.
rc/jil (AP, Reuters)

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