Migrants are travelling from across the EU to ‘beg and steal’ on the streets of Britain, Theresa May will warn Europe’s leaders.
The Home Secretary will demand action to end abuse of the EU’s free movement directive by people who have no intention of finding work.
At a meeting of European home affairs ministers in Luxembourg on Friday, she will highlight how gangs of beggars are setting up camps in London to launch raids on the unsuspecting public.
She will also outline a case in which Romanian fraudsters fleeced the British taxpayer of almost £3million.
Home Office officials say it is a huge achievement for the issue to even be discussed.
EU leaders have been reluctant to even contemplate any changes to the rules – it has taken three years for Mrs May to get it on the agenda,
According to Whitehall sources, the Home Secretary will say that abuse of free movement rights by some EU migrants is placing an ‘unacceptable burden on our schools, our hospitals, our social security systems and our local communities’.
She will stress that it is unacceptable that some EU nationals are able to come to countries such as the UK with no intention of working, but simply to access our state benefits and take advantage of our public services.
Mrs May will then tell the rest of Europe that it cannot be right that national governments are unable to act to stop this abuse.
In a significant move, she will present the council with examples of how EU nationals are fleecing the British taxpayer.
They will include the case of a Lavinia Olmazu, who helped more than 170 Romanians illegally claim £2.9m in benefits has been jailed for two years and three months.
Olmazu, a leading campaigner for the rights of Roma gypsies, helped mastermind the scam involving 172 Romanians.
After gaining access to the Romanians through her outreach work with Haringey and Waltham Forest councils and the Big Issue charity, she set up companies with her boyfriend to help facilitate widescale fraudulent benefit claims.
Mrs May will also say there is a ‘recurring problem’ with groups of EU nationals who set up camps in public areas in London, and beg and steal from tourists.
She will say they arrive under the free movement rules but have no intention of working, studying or setting up a business.
In 2012, over 70 per cent of individuals arrested for begging in one London borough – Westminster – were EU citizens.
Police have warned of aggressive begging by people from some Eastern European states, including Romania.
In April Mrs May secured the backing of Germany, Holland and Austria to campaign for tighter restrictions on migrants’ access to hand-outs and other State services.
The four countries wrote to the President of the EU arguing that the free movement directive – a founding principle of the EU – must not be ‘unconditional’.
They want to make to persuade the Eurocrats to make it harder for citizens of other member states to access benefits within days or weeks of arriving in another member state.
The letter has led to the discussion at Friday’s meeting. Britain has long been seeking changes to the rules on entitlement to welfare.
However, the chances of success were limited while the UK government was a lone voice in Brussels.
The fact that Germany, in particular, has joined the campaign will place huge new pressure on the other member states to agree to tighten the rules.
Speaking last night, Mrs May said: ‘We are already taking tough action in this country to stamp out the abuse of free movement, to protect our benefits system and public services.
‘We will not allow this country to be a soft touch but this isn't just a UK problem - it will take the joint efforts of all our EU partners to tackle it.’
It comes at a time of heightened tensions between the British government and the EU.
Last week, the European Commission announced it was taking Britain to court for insisting migrants pass a ‘right to reside’ test before they can access some State handouts.
Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is planning to defy the EC and make existing restrictions even tougher.