DAVID Cameron could be set to drop his proposal for a four-year ban on migrant benefits in order to keep Britain in the European.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka – currently locked in talks with the PM in Prague – revealed the pair had been discussing the U-turn yesterday.
Curbing in-work benefits for EU migrants is thought to be among Cameron’s priorities as he looks to reform Britain’s troubled relationship with Brussels ahead of this year’s referendum.
But leaders from across the continent have expressed concern over the supposed unfairness of his proposed blanket ban.
EU President Donald Tusk said last month that the proposal was “unacceptable”, while European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said he was “ready to look for other options”.
Cameron said at a joint press conference with Sobotka that he would “welcome” an alternative plan that gave Britain control over its welfare bill.
The Czech leader appeared to back the idea of an “emergency brake” on migrants’ in-work handouts.
He said: “We discussed other possible alternatives to make it possible for the UK Government to respond to the mass influx of workers”.
Prague is the latest stop on Cameron’s lengthy diplomatic tour of the continent ahead of a Brussels summit on February 18th.
The Prime Minister is still “confident” that he will be able to come to an agreement with other EU heads of government before then.
He told journalists in Prague: “I firmly believe there is a pathway to an agreement.
“I am confident that with the help of European partners and with goodwill we will be able to get there and find mutually satisfactory conclusions.”
His pledge came in the wake of French prime minister Manuel Valls’ warning that huge numbers of Iraqi and Syrian migrants were putting the future of the EU and its borderless Schengen Agreement in “grave danger”.
He said: “We are not in Schengen, so let’s be clear Britain has its own border controls and we are going to maintain those border controls whatever anyone else in Europe decides to do
“What I would say to European colleagues and Schengen members is that you have to have a strong external border if you are not going to have internal borders.
“Britain recognises that, even outside Schengen, clearly it’s in our interests that we have this situation brought rapidly under control.”
European ministers are to meet on Monday to discuss extending border controls within the passport-free Schengen travel zone in order to stem the tide of migrants.