Cameron battling EU over refugee rules

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron. © Toby Melville
Prime Minister David Cameron is preparing to clash with Brussels over asylum seekers as he tries to finalize EU membership renegotiation and the European Commission proposes scrapping key legislation which would leave the UK open to greater migration.

The European Commission (EC) is expected to announce proposals which include abandoning the Dublin regulation, a rule which stipulates that non-EU refugees must claim asylum in the first country where they arrive. 

Scrapping the legislation could leave the UK open to higher levels of asylum seekers, something which Cameron is keen to avoid to keep voters onside.

During 2015 the majority of asylum seekers arrived in the south of Europe and tried to move northwards towards Germany, France, Britain and Scandinavia.

According to the Financial Times, the commission is likely to make the proposals in March and is expected to face strong resistance from nations within the bloc.

Cameron is preparing to make a whistle-stop tour of Europe, visiting numerous EU counterparts at the World Economic Forum in Davos and stopping at Prague on his diplomatic mini-offensive.

The PM is hoping to secure a renegotiation package before the EU summit on February 18, and will deliver a keynote speech in Davos on Thursday with the purpose of persuading EU leaders to agree to his demands, as well as paving the way for the Syrian peace talks taking place in London next month.

"The EU has a vital role to play - coming together to offer genuine support for Syria's neighbours. We should swiftly agree to change the rules so Jordan can increase its exports and create new jobs,” Cameron said.

"These steps will provide real benefits to refugees in the region now, as well as enabling them to play a leading role in Syria's reconstruction in the future.

"This is not just in the interests of Syria and her neighbours. It is in the interests of Europe, too. The more we do to enable people to stay in the region, the less likely we are to see them coming to Europe."

His visit to Davos comes on the back of a renegotiation victory for the prime minister, who will later today announce more military assistance to Poland in return for the country dropping its opposition to migrant benefit caps in the UK.

The UK will send 1,000 troops and warships to Poland during 2016 as part of a beefed-up NATO presence on the border with Russia.