The idea of setting up a new European border and coast guard agency whose members could be deployed to the European Union's (EU) external borders even without the prior approval from the country where those guard troops are being sent is worth considering and Croatia has to participate actively in that discussion, Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said in Brussels on Friday.
"I can say that that is an interesting idea. If we have the Schengen (Area) with complete freedom of movement within it and everything that makes life easier, then that makes sense. Germany and France in particular support this idea, for their reasons, especially Germany, that wants them (guards) to be deployed to the Schengen border or external EU border in exceptional circumstances to assist countries that cannot do so and perhaps do not want to, there are suspicions of that nature too. That is something that is in the making and Croatia has to be included. Who knows, I hope that we won't need that however, let's say, that the idea is worth considering," Milanovic said.
Milanovic made the statement at the conclusion of the EU summit on the establishment of setting up a border and coast guard in an effort to save Schengen.
The summit discussed a proposal by British Prime Minister David Cameron for EU reforms so that he could be in a position to recommend that Great Britain remains in the EU at Britain's in-out referendum that is expected in September 2016 or late 2017.
Most EU member states consider Cameron's demand to limit 'welfare tourism' - that is the right for citizens of other member states to be eligible for welfare benefits in Britain - as unacceptable. London demands that workers from other member states have to work in Great Britain for at least four years before being eligible for welfare allowances similar to domestic workers, which is discriminatory and in direct contravention of EU regulations and principles.
"The majority was against setting a precedence, some out of principle because many European countries have lots of their citizens in Great Britain. For those who are making up numbers of Croats who have emigrated, they should see the situation in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland. Hundreds of thousands of people from these small countries live in Great Britain alone. When speaking about 4 years, as Cameron has requested, to have to reside there before being eligible for certain welfare allowances, which according to British law applies to everyone regardless of how long they had worked, then it's normal that Poles and others oppose that because it affects their citizens. They consider this a protection of the principle of non-discrimination. Croatia isn't in a similar situation. Our people who emigrate have qualities. It would be good for them to remain here because these people aren't welfare tourists and they aren't going to Great Britain to exploit those benefits," Milanovic said, adding that he understood Britain's insistence on curbing access to benefits for migrants,
"I think I was one among those who openly supported Cameron," the Croatian PM said.