Cameron in Romania, Poland to discuss migrant benefit cuts

AP News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2015 12:04 PM
Cameron in Romania, Poland to discuss migrant benefit cuts

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the contentious issue of limiting welfare benefits to Eastern Europeans living in Britain as he began a visit Wednesday to Romania and Poland.

The British leader is seeking to cut benefits as part of efforts to renegotiate the U.K.'s relationship with the 28-nation European Union. Among other groups, the proposal would cover the hundreds of thousands of Poles and the 175,000 Romanians now in Britain.

Cameron met Romanian leaders in Bucharest then headed to Warsaw to speak with Poland's new leaders.

"I want Britain to stay in a reformed European Union. That is why I am seeking important reforms to address the concerns of the British people," Cameron said. "I recognize that some areas are more difficult than others, particularly the reforms I've proposed in welfare."

He spoke after talks with Romania's center-right President Klaus Iohannis, who wants Britain to stay in the EU. That will be decided next year when Britain holds a referendum on whether to remain in the bloc.

Earlier, Cameron met the new Romanian prime minister, Dacian Ciolos, before visiting the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest, site of a horrific fire that killed 60 people on Oct. 30. Cameron placed a lit candle and a wreath of white lilies and roses at the site, while Iohannis lit a candle and vowed to use the tragedy to push for tougher public safety regulations.

In Poland, Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski called Cameron's plans to limit welfare benefits to migrant workers "a point of contention." Prime Minister Beata Szydlo told reporters she believes the proposed cuts are "not acceptable" but says she is open to discussing the options.

Despite the divisive issue of benefits, Cameron, a Conservative, will find much in common with the new conservative leadership in Poland, which is Euroskeptic and does not want to adopt the euro currency any time soon.

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Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Poland, contributed to this report.