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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

UK to Restrict Welfare Access for EU Migrants

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday that the UK government would start restricting benefits to EU migrants, banning the provision of housing benefit to all new arrivals and imposing a three-month waiting period before claimants can access jobseeker’s allowance. The government also plans to deport any EU national sleeping rough or begging and will bar reentry into the UK for 12 months “unless they can prove they have a proper reason to be here, such as a job”, according to Cameron. The measures seem to fall foul of a number of EU laws, particularly those guaranteeing free movement within the bloc. Cameron also said he was also concerned about the potential large numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians coming to the country once the EU lifts transitional controls in January. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said that the measures showed the government was “flailing around” while EU Employment Commissioner Láslzó Andor said the plan was risking making the UK look like a “nasty country”.

German Parties Reach Coalition Deal

German political leaders have signed a “grand coalition” agreement after weeks of negotiations, with Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that the new government would achieve a “grand mission” for Germany. “We will not develop a union of debt, but a union of stability”, she said, adding that negotiations took a while because “we started these negotiations with different views”. Social Democrat (SPD) leader Sigmar Gabriel agreed that there were differences, but that it was “natural because we’re members of different parties”. The socialists managed to guarantee the implementation of a minimum wage from 2014, the development of a new pension plan and the guarantee that Germans born from 1990 to foreign parents would be able to hold dual citizenship. The conservatives, meanwhile, maintained that the government would not create new taxes or increase the country’s debt.

Boat Carrying Haitian Migrants Capsizes Off Florida

The US Coast Guard and officials in the Bahamas said on Wednesday they would resume their search operations for any survivors of a sailboat that ran aground and capsized off the Bahamas early on Tuesday. The boat was first spotted by fishermen off the Bahamas, who contacted the Royal Bahamas Defense Force. It is believed strong winds may have plagued the boat, with marine forecasts warning of “hazardous seas and dangerous rip currents”. At least 30 bodies were recovered by the US Coast Guard late yesterday and another 100 were taken from the ship. “So far, Bahamian authorities can account for 110 survivors”, said Elcott Coleby, spokesman for the government of the Bahamas, to the Miami Herald. Another group of Haitians had already been rescued near the area earlier in the month.

Latvian Government Resigns Over Supermarket Collapse

Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Drombrovskis resigned on Wednesday after saying he had political responsibility for the collapse of a supermarket in the capital, Riga, which resulted in the death of at least 54 people. “Considering the tragedy and all related circumstances, a new government is needed that has the clear support of parliament”, said the outgoing prime minister. Drombrovskis was well respected, said the BBC’s correspondent, Damien McGuinness, adding that there had been no calls for him to step down. The prime minister met President Andris Berzins to communicate his decision, and the president is now considering appointing a new government. Structural experts say the collapse was probably caused by the addition of a roof garden to the structure of the supermarket, which had been designed without it among its original features.

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