Britain should be “rewarded a medal” for opening its borders to EU migrants, the Finnish Prime Minister has said.
Alexander Stubb defended David Cameron who has faced criticism from some European leaders for voicing a desire to limit EU migration.
It has been reported that the UK could seek to apply an “emergency brake” to reduce net migration – the difference between those entering and leaving.
The idea has been met with scepticism by the European Commission, as well as Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.
Speaking at a summit of northern European leaders in Finland, Mr Stubb said he had discussed the “holy” principle of free movement in the EU with Mr Cameron.
He highlighted the four freedoms of movement in the European Union- of goods, services, money and people.
But he echoed Mr Cameron’s belief that these were not “unqualified”.
Mr Stubb agreed there were “tremendous pressures” on the UK education and health systems and it was vital that a balance be achieved when it came to migration.
Referring to Britain, he said: “We have to have a look at this whole balance – and this is speaking of a country that is the most international country in the world.
“And so for us, this is not an anti-immigration approach at all – quite the contrary – the UK should be rewarded a medal for opening its borders in 2004.”
He added: “But if the UK has a problem we have to have a look at these sensitivities.”
Mr Cameron and Mr Stubb were speaking at the Northern Future Forum.
The forum brings together the leaders of Nordic countries, together with the Baltic states, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and Iceland and the UK.