The United Kingdom aims to curb "destabilizing" migration flows within the European Union (EU) and does not rule out it may demand amendments to the EU treaty, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in Lithuania on Thursday.
Philip Hammond
© DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

"We respect the principle of free movement within the European Union but we also have to deal with some of the destabilizing very rapid short-term movements that we have seen in the UK," the British diplomacy chief told Vilnius journalists.

In his words, recent rulings of EU courts allow discussing proposals that do not require changing treaties, which would have to rally support of all 28 EU member-states. In the secretary's words, London has not yet finalized its position on the matter.

"Part of the problem is the way our benefit system, our access to social benefit, social housing, free healthcare, woks in the UK and we have to look at those things both domestically and in the context of the European Union," said Hammond.

"Recent judgments in the European courts give us some ideas about how we might reform the way the system operates within the existing treaties and that's what we want to explore first of all. But we cannot rule out possibility that treaty change in the future may be needed," he said.

Last November, the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice ruled that economically inactive EU citizens who arrive to a different EU member-state for social benefits only, may be refused access to certain social benefits.

Last year, 38,800 residents emigrated from Lithuania, including nearly half of them to Great Britain.

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