A consensus seems to be emerging that the deal on welfare access for EU migrants struck in Brussels last week is largely symbolic. It is unlikely to have a significant effect on the mobility decisions of potential migrants; nor does it look like it will produce any substantial savings.
It is important to be absolutely clear about why it will not have a big impact. Part of the story is that the deal doesn’t actually promise that much. The famous ‘emergency brake’ would only be in place for a maximum of 7 years. And it can only limit access to in-work tax benefits for newly arriving EU immigrants, for the first four years. Moreover, the text of the deal makes clear that over this four year period, benefits should be incrementally phased in, as immigrants become more integrated into the labour market.
But more importantly, the whole premise of the…
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