- POSTED: 13 Jan 2014 22:31
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European Union Employment Commissioner seeks to ease negative sentiments ahead of May polls.
BRUSSELS: Migrants contribute more than they take in their new countries, the EU said Monday, adding there has been no massive influx from Romania or Bulgaria this year as feared in Britain.
"Mobile workers complement home workers ... they tend not to take jobs away from host workers," EU Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor said.
Migrants are also "net contributors to welfare systems of host countries ... they pay more in tax and social security ... than they receive in payments," Andor said of an an issue which has helped drive anti-EU sentiment ahead of European Parliament polls in May.
It was however "clear that we need safeguards to prevent abuse," Andor said, pointing to an EU handbook he was making available to help define the measure of "habitual residence," the rule of residence determining who gets social welfare payments.
"There are clear safeguards in EU law to prevent people from abusing social welfare systems of other EU countries," he said of the guidelines.
The issue heated up sharply ahead of January 1 when Bulgarians and Romanians received full rights to free movement in the European Union, sparking fears of a massive influx of migrants living on the state or taking jobs away from locals.
In response to calls for limits, Britain rushed through measures in December restricting access to unemployment handouts for new EU migrants but the feared flood of Romanians and Bulgarians notably failed to materialise.
Andor noted this fact and said he hoped it would help bring about a more "balanced" and less emotional view of the issues involved and what should be done to remedy abuses.
The EU last year took Britain to court over its residence rules which Andor said were not only "restrictive but also discriminatory," with the possibility that London could face fines.