EU referendum: David Cameron’s touted EU deal could face legal challenge, experts warn

14 Ιαν 2016

David Cameron’s reported plan to secure a referendum-winning deal with the European Union, which would allow Britain to limit benefit payments to migrant workers, could be overturned in the European Court and trigger a second in-out vote on EU membership, leading think tanks and academics have warned.

   It was reported last week that European leaders are on the verge of agreeing a deal whereby Britain would withdraw benefit payments to all workers, including Britons, for their first four years in the job market. The political impact for Britons would be softened by a controversial “social payment”, in the form of some sort of voucher or other asset.
However, a senior academic has warned that while such a deal could be agreed at an intergovernmental level, it could later be deemed illegal under EU treaty laws.
   Professor Steve Peers of the University of Essex, an expert on EU law and constitutional affairs, said if Mr Cameron delivered “a quick fix” that was later seen to have influenced the referendum and kept Britain in the EU, it was likely to be challenged in the European courts. Professor Peers warned that if there was no move to bring benefit changes inside the EU treaties, a legal challenge could follow.
   He said: “If the court [EU] agreed that Britain was still discriminating against migrant workers, this could be portrayed by the losing side as a con, and that we voted to stay in Europe on a false premise. Calls for a second referendum in that case would be hard to avoid.”
   With 18- to 22-year-olds directly affected by the proposed four-year condition, The Independent on Sunday has been told that Whitehall’s EU negotiators have discussed a compensation package for them.
   Future education “vouchers” that could be traded for college fees, and other effective “backdoor” social payments including potential advanced payments for home and child care, which would not contravene EU treaty rules on parity for all workers, have been put on the table.
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