Irish and British governments discuss impact of EU plan

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Prime Minister David Cameron is currently in Brussels for an EU summit

The Irish and British governments have held talks to ensure Irish nationals in Britain are not affected by benefits restrictions that could emerge as part of a deal between the UK and the EU.

Prime Minister David Cameron is currently in Brussels for an EU summit.

He aims to return with a reform package he can put to the British people in a referendum on EU membership in June.

He wants to restrict migration and limit benefits for those coming from Central and Eastern Europe.

The Irish ambassador to the UK, Dan Mulhall, told Bloomberg television that Ireland's arrangements with the UK regarding Irish nationals working there were "separate".

"We will continue to discuss this issue because it's recognised on both sides this is a particular issue which is a little bit separate from migration from other European countries which is a more recent phenomenon for Britain," he said.

"The issue of Irish people living in the UK predates the EU by many years. We have, of course, discussed this issue with the British government, and depending on what the outcome of this whole process might be, obviously it is a matter that will have to be continued.

"We'll have to continue to discuss it with Britain and with other member states in order to ensure as far as possible that Irish people continue to enjoy the same advantages as they currently enjoy."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has said he is "quite confident" European leaders can reach a deal with Britain over its future membership of the EU.

Mr Cameron said: "We've got some important work to do today and tomorrow and it's going to be hard.

"I'll be battling for Britain. If we can get a good deal I'll take that deal. But I will not take a deal that doesn't meet what we need.

"I think it's much more important to get this right than to do anything in a rush. But with goodwill, with hard work, we can get a better deal for Britain."