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Monday, March 25, 2013

What is proposed under 'Cameron's crackdown' on immigration - and is it compatible with EU law?

In a keynote speech on immigration, David Cameron has today announced a host of new measures designed to curb EU and non-EU immigrants' access to welfare benefits. With transitional controls on Romania and Bulgaria lapsing at the end of the year, the political debate on EU free movement in the UK has threatened to boil over.

We have consistently emphasised the benefits of free movement but we do recognise that there are genuine concerns regarding the impact large-scale immigration can have on public services, the lower-skilled section of the labour market and particular communities. It is also clear that there is real public concern about access to welfare systems, given the UK's particular circumstances: a free health service and a number of non-contributory benefits.

So what does Cameron propose? His speech addressed immigration in general but the measures he announced regarding EU migration in particular were the following:
To ensure people cannot claim benefits indefinitely, in early 2014 we will create a statutory presumption that after 6 months an EEA national can no longer retain their status as a job seeker or retained worker and continue to claim benefits, unless they can demonstrate they have actively sought work throughout that period and have a genuine chance of finding work....
...We will strengthen the test people have to pass to see if they are eligible to claim income related benefits – the Habitual Residence Test. There will be an increase in the number and stronger range and depth of questions asked...
 ...The Government will introduce an expectation on councils to introduce a local residency test in determining who should qualify for social housing. This would mean someone would have to live in an area for say 2 or 5 years before they could even go on the waiting list. This will stop someone from turning up and immediately gaining access to social housing. To ensure UK nationals are protected when they are moving for genuine reasons – for example for work or because of family breakdown – local authorities will have the ability to set exceptions (e.g. in relation to work mobility, armed services personnel, for people escaping domestic violence etc)...  
...Government wants to stop the expectation that our health service is free to the entire world and we will take new steps to ensure the NHS can claim back money that is owed for NHS treatment provided to those not entitled to it. 
So this is addressing the so-called "pull factors". Now these are all things that the Government thinks it can do within the existing limits of EU free movement law - but the European Commission has already launched legal proceedings against the UK for its 'right to reside' test and you can count on the Commission to scrutinise any new proposals closely. The fact that so much of this is already considered possible begs the question of why the UK hasn't done it earlier.

Cameron also explicitly mentioned two areas where the UK will seek to renegotiate the rules at the EU-level:
We are also going to take forward negotiations with European partners to explore whether we can make economically inactive migrants the responsibility of their home country before they gain any eligibility for UK benefits.
And also whether we can work with like-minded European partners to limit the amount we pay in child benefit towards the upkeep of children living abroad.
The UK is likely to find allies on these two issues among the Northern countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands, but whether there will be a majority in the EU to make these changes is unclear at this stage.

19 comments:

denbo said...

Funny... Cameron calls UKIP membership 'racists' and 'fruitcakes' then does his best to imitate them.

First, he offers a referendum at some 'future' date and now he's proposing immigration laws that the EU simply won't allow.

There used to be a time such transparency was not tolerated by the public. Now it is par for the course.

Rik said...

The name of the game is simply being the least attractive.
Seen from that angle this works probably reasonably well. The UK can also start bordercontrols the continent because of Schengen will have much bigger problems to do that.
It holds especially the welfare tourists out as well. Likely they rather move to a more politically correct country (something up North).

In this respect it is the preception the potential immigrants get more than the real measures. Give Wilders or LePen a British pasport you will get likely 10000s less immigrants. Basically not saying it aloud the more hostile it is for that group the better. The few high potential Rumenians will likley get through anyway (at least most of them) and at this moment of time the UK (or any North European country can do well without a mass influx of unschooled workers).
Imho it is also the long term effect that should be looked at. The first period they usually do well only after that they start to behave in a similar fashion as the UKs own underclass. Which are also basketcases. Anyway with aging hitting in and economic difficult times you want long term nett contribitors and no substantial nett receivers. You simply cannot afford them longer term and keep a welfarestate.

Immigration is simply after the economy probably the most important issue for possibly even the majority of voters. And Rumenians and Bulgarians are the next big thing in that respect.
If you would get Polish numbers Cameron will be most likely butchered (or large numbers of Roma). If the Germans Skandinavians and French get them and the UK not he will likley get a few percent extra votes. Simply the way it is, where do you think those socalled populist parties get their voters from. Whether you like it or not a big part of the population has had it with low end immigrants and consider that in the way they vote.

Let the EU make problems, great PR for Cameron and his demand for a reneg as well. And basically a free commercial how uninviting the UK is as it usually get a lot of coverage locally.
Anyway things, using South European tricks, can be deferred so long that the first massinflux will likley look for greener pastures elsewhere.

Might not be pretty. But this problem has to be managed. And before legislation can be reversed getting a few 100000s Rumenians and Bulgarians including a substantial part Roma, Sinti and alike in your country and longer term act as huge basketcases and a major social problem is hardly a thing a rightwing government will make itself popular with its voterbase.
Better it can simply not run the chance that that will happen. Have to see if those numbers are that massive. But seen the fact that there are 2 million in Italy and Spain (probably with half of them unemployed) and the countries themselves are extremely poor it might well be realistically seen.

At the end of the day Cameron cannot allow this going wrong one way or the other.

jon livesey said...

As Lenin used to say, the worse the better.

The more often the EU intervenes to hamper UK policies that the majority of UK voters find reasonable and necessary, the more support for the EU will continue to erode in the UK.

It's all don behind a cloak of legalism and appeal to "rights", but the EU seems to have a complete tin ear where UK domestic opinion is concern.

Finger-pointing at specific groups is clearly racist, and I am somewhat surprised that the moderators allow it, but regulation of residency and of the use of free services that are applied fairly to all non-citizens without discrimination must be in the powers of a sovereign nation.

The EU is pushing its luck in trying to impose its will on a country whose free services the EU make absolutely no contribution to.

Rik said...

@denbo1
Cameron and Co simply have to wake up to reality (and in all fairness it seems that he is doing that).

In the electoral system the UK has you need to be one of the 2 big parties, the left one or the right one. If the electorate on your side is split over 2 parties you become second class. The other side in this case Labour will almost by nature become the biggest party in the land.
Looking at the Conservatives from that angle such a splitting process is now going on with the rise of the UKIP.
For long term strategic reasons and also to win simply the next election the Tories should never allow this to happen.

So in a nutshell you need to keep the electorate on your side together. Needless to say that this process has run already substantially out of control.

Looking at the electorate on the right. It is a combination of different groups. However what gives most seats is the social and cultural conservative group. That group is via the UKIP leaking away.

Cameron has simply made the huge strategic mistake to let that happen. Basically by moving the party to the middle and towards the urban, highly educated, more international, often professional groups. A strategy doomed to fail. Especially when competition on the culturally right side is raising its head.
These new growing groups should have been given a place in the party, they are probably the future, but not have taken the party over from one day to the next, as it appeared to have happened.

Even worse he has made himself the face of this new movement. Now he will simply have to reverse that or destroy the party and his own politicl career.

The backbone of a conservative party (or maybe one of the 2 backbones) is the social and cultural conservative mainly suburban and rural part of society. You should keep them aboard. Holland's CDA shows what will happen if you alienate yourself from that group. Merkel might be able to do it in Germany as there is no real competition. However she is playing a dangerous game. If competion on her right would come up (either as a FDP with normal leadership or a populist party or a CSU split off), things can go very quickly the wrong way.

Rik said...

@denbo2
Anyway this group simply likes to keep the entitlements, build something up (proper pension, buy a house), and doesnot really like change. In that respect pushing them all sort of new people down the troat as such is already problamatic. Even worse when these people come in large parts from culturally different and social economic much poorer parts of the world. Make them easilly visible with skin colour and funny clothes and tell everybody that they are the best thing that ever happened to the country and you create a political pressure cooker about to explode.

Anyway that has happened all over Europe. And nearly all UK governments have inherited a complete mess from their predecessors. And did subsequently very little about it. Especially Blair and Co made the situation (potential explosiveness) considerably worse.

Cameron has as said inherited the situation. And would gladly have passed it through to the next government if circumstances had not forced him otherwise.
It has however to be said it is a difficult problem to tackle.

Starting again from there rule no one is that as little as possible new problems should arise. The normal way to attack a thing like this. In that respect trying to avoid that potentially a large new group would enter and settle is the logical thing to do. And as said earlier as all previous governments have been signing all sorts of legal stuff that makes that more difficult this is probably the best he can do.

On the present discussion in parliament. As usual it is missing most of the points.
It is not about people coming to work when they enter a country. Usually they do that. It is about people in lower income classes as these cost disproportionately more and generate less. Plus furthermore in general they become even bigger costfactors after some years. Looking at it financially.
Some groups are obviously much higher risks than others.
It has little to do with people that are already in. In general kicking those people out when they have settled is highly problematic. It is by not getting new ones in first. Matter of priority setting. And the present ones are simply wrong. It simply is much less work and effort to keep a new one out than to kick a present one out.
Anyway it was clear again that immigration authorities in the UK are simply still highly dysfunctional. 100K students annually go awol in the 'system'.

Cameron is growing up and trying to live with the fact that much of his countrymen and certainly his electorate are just simple, a bit selfish ordinary people and not rightwing worldchangers. And if he doesanot like that he will have to become a LibDem or something similar. Anyway look for another party and other voters to represent.
More in his own words. His party's electorate constitutes for a large part of closet racist and bigotted people (all is just a matter of definition) so Mr Cameron, live with it and represent them, or step aside, or the next election will do that for you.

Rollo said...

What is meant by Cameron's... This is a contradiction in terms. He spouts whatever it is he thinks anyone wants to hear. It means nothing.

Anonymous said...

If you are an illegal immigrant, you cannot make any claims for benefit, or housing, or health, without registering. So, actually, they are not the problem.Employing such people is probably against the law, and takes away jobs from the general population.
One of the main problems of more immigration is Housing, and strain on the infrastructure.
There is also the fact that there is an epidemic of anti-biotic resistant T.B. in Rumania.

Average Englishman said...

Rik
Interesting analysis as usual but wrong with many conclusions that I do not have time to list but essentially, you are not up to date.
Cameron has already lost the next election. His words are dust. He has no credibility. His party is already looking around for their next leader, who will have to steal policies from UKIP (and mean it) or the party's decline will continue rapidly and he or she will suffer Cameron's fate.

christina speight said...

It was quite obvious to everybody but Cameron that most of what he proposed, while being fully in line with the British people's view, will not satisfy our masters in Brussels.

So either Cameron is working to a final showdown with Brussels {dream on, but I doubt it], or he is incredibly obtuse and ill-formed.

This impasse is precisely why we want OUT altogether so that our country can once again be our own. Lawyers arguments are a waste of time and fail at the first hurdle in that we don't want EU law superior to our own law. THe EU bullying Cyprus into submission gets more hatefuk by the day.

christina speight said...

Open Europe reports " Director Mats Persson argues that “access to benefits and public services need to be handled with extreme care” in order to maintain public confidence"

Where - what precisely does that mean? WHO has any confidence in what? And WHY is it important to whom?

And can he explain exactly why workers whose wages are held down by "cheaper" immigrants should find that "good for the UK" [for the EU, perhaps but fdor the UK?]

Rik said...

@Average Englishman
Cameron is probably borderline but with 2 year to go no one can say anybody only 10% behind has lost an election. 2 year ago Merkel's approval was close to 20%. Grillo was completely unknown 2 years ago (now at 30%). Clinton reinvented himself in such a period. Wilders in Holland reinvented himself (to now the largest party) in 1/2 a year.
The present Dutch government won less than a year ago with 55% of the vote now they are at half that.
Too many things can happen especially with the competition which is equally poor or even poorer.

Looking at the competition. Mr and Mr Ed are weak candidates that mess a lot up themselves. Clegg and Cable look weird to a lot of people.
Farage is by far the most consistent. The only one that make more or less consistently logical moves. But it is nearly completely seen the growth a new party that as the rest of Europe shows when brought under stress always messes things up.

Cameron's main problems are imho more his credibility with he UKIP voter and the fact that he keeps messing things up.

From there elections are between the parties that participate. UKIP is and almost certainly will remain a protestparty. If they win Labour likley makes it and there won't be any referendum. It shouldnot have been to difficult to explain to UKIP voters. However the strategic moves of voters usually happens close to an election.
It is completely clear the people that now say to vote for UKIP are pretty unimpressed what Cameron is showing. But most stil have the potential to go back to the Conservative nest especially when it becomes the choice between principles that lead to nothing on one side and at least a shot at it at the other.

Messing things up is the other problem. He has his pet projects which are constantly bringing him into trouble.

Anyway with 2 year to go if there is no improvement insight his party should still replace him. Problem is only finding a proper candidate. Basically all candidates after Thatcher simply have looked pretty weak, less than mediocre. And so does this bunch, as far as I have seen it at least.

But a tough policy towards the EU, likley in the short term the treaty has to be changed. Hard stance on immigration also towards the EU (the Malmstrom woman is exactly what you need, makes anybody at the right side of the spectrum look great). Stop transferring money to the third world (incredibly unpopular all over Europe so difficult to see that being different in the UK). No liberal social stuff.
Economy is a weak point of course but the alternatives Mr and Mr Ed look completely rubbish in that respect. No real alternative. Mr Ed M makes probably even more mistakes when under stress than Cameron.

In other words getting reelected seems like a piece of cake for somebody with the political talent of Merkel or Blair. See where Cameron is made of, with you I have my doubts, but I donot think it is a lost case, not by far.

Jesper said...

Some professionals coming from the British Isles to Sweden:
http://www.ladda-upp.se/image.php?id=47567&size=full

Sensitive subject, what can be said is that there has been some problems with the quality of goods and services that has been provided by people who appear to come from this particular sub-culture. I believe the sub-culture might be referred to by some as 'the Travellers community'.

Should UK & Ireland be excluded from the free movement of people in the EU since this sub-culture have British and Irish citizenships?

John McClane said...

I don't understand how the EU state where I am now can insist that I produce proof of income and health insurance before they will give me residency. To make sure I will not be a burden on their health system and pension scheme.

And the non-EU state where I can also claim residency imposes the same conditions.

So why can't the UK do it?

Anonymous said...

I believe the reason Cameron is getting more and more about "speaking out of the EU" is the reason people do not see the EU institutions as professional bureaus anymore, but a rather political organization which pushes for an agenda and control regardless of the facts.

Check out this for example:
http://ferenckumin.tumblr.com/post/46508404399/the-unfortunate-bias-of-the-commissioner

Rik said...

@jesper
Answer is no.
You like to come up with these kind of lousy examples.

Overall the Swedes, Brits, Dutch, Germans are very similar even the French. Each have a portion of misfits in their society and that portion will be roughly similar. To make rules easy they apply to everyone. So all are allowed in or out with the exception of a few extreme cases.

Rumenia, Bulgaria or any other country in that stage of development, be it in or outside the EU, statistically/historically seen always bring in mainly low educated people and some of these countries also have a reputation for international criminal activities.
If you let everybody in from such poor countries plainly speaking you get a lot of (substantial) nett-receivers in plus likley a push in your criminal statistics.
What you get is in no way in balance what you have to give. Simply a very bad deal. Brits moving to Rumenia will not go for welfare or healthcare a lot that go the other way however will.

In a nutshell Sweden and the UK are rather similar. The good and the bad that you get is very similar to the good and the bad you give. In which case a free movement is beneficial for both countries and makes perfect sense.
With Rumenia and Bulgaria that is simply not the case. Disadvantages heavily outweight advantages.

It doesnot mean that all should not be allowed in. It means that you should try to do some checks and let the likely contributors in and keep the rest out.

Similar with Roma and Sinti. There will be absolutely brilliant people among them, that have suffered terribly from discrimination in thse countries.
Of course there should be room for them. However the average one is simply uneducated and has a history of unemployment and crime (well the men do). You are a complete moron of a country if you take that risk and let them in.
And the problem with these groups is it is not really in marginal numbers and there are some indications also from other countries that the inflow might be considerable.

As for the discrimination part. It looks to me that that is not a problem the UK or Germany, France or Holland should solve. Unless they want to of course (but as you noticed the will is not really there). It should be solved in the countries of origin and imho it is a shame that such countries are allowed in the EU without proper policies in place for that. Which means that after there is free movement the problems will for a big part be put for the doors of the other members.

In a freetrade area free movement make perfect sense if it is quid pro quo, like with Sweden and the UK. That simply isnot the case with Rumenia and Bulgaria and certainly not with the Roma and Sinti pats of those societies.

Jesper said...

Rik,

the point is that you can't exclude everyone from a EU-nation just because that nation includes some people you don't like. If individuals misbehave then punish those individuals. Read the part about 'Request to leave / Expulsion'
http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/residence/worker-pensioner/rights-conditions/index_en.htm

The main point from his speech is more likely to be about the ability to claim welfare indefinitely in the UK.
It can't be done in Sweden, it can't be done in Germany but for some reason UK people are ok with UK people being on welfare indefinitely.

I suppose the logic of including the intent to reform a system where people can and do stay on welfare indefinitely in a speech about migration is that some will get to blame their favourite scapegoat again.

If the welfare system needs to be reformed then it should have been done when the economy was booming because then the ones who chose not to work would have been forced to take work as there was plenty of work available. Doing it during a recession is not ideal as there are not many jobs available.

All that being said there are areas that have to be addressed on a transnational level.

Btw, either you or the UK government can't spell the name of the nation you don't like:
https://www.gov.uk/government/world/romania

Rik said...

@Jesper
1. The UKs welfaresystem looks pretty awful in my eyes and should be revised.
As I have stated several times part of the immigration problem in the UK is that the bottom part of its workforce (largely the ones on welfare) are absolutely crap. Worse than in Sweden in my experience. Nobody with a sane mind would hire such persons. Bit over the top maybe, but not very much.
2. Another one that no immigration policy will work as long as the immigrationauthorities are dysfunctional. Less dysfunctional than before but still simply dysfunctional. This year they 'lost' 100K (in one year) 'students'.
3. You have as a country like the UK or Sweden basically open borders with rich countries like Sweden, France, Germany, US, Oz, Canada, Japan.
Poland was already a borderline case. Inflow was probably considerably too high. Educationlevels are similar.
Rumenia, Bulgaria (or Moldova, Serbia if it ever comes that far) are another cup of tea. Parts of these countries are backwaters, Boratcountry. And large groups not only Roma and Co , also rural, are undereducated. Their passport system is leaking considerably.
You end up likely with a lot of extra underclass longer term.
I am not convinced with the short term figures shown. Short term with hardly any imigrant group there were problems. It started when families came, started to live together and could get a Western passport, could get welfare etc. History simply shows that undereducated groups longer term cause social economic problems.
It doesnot matter if the country is EU or not EU it is the possibility to move to a much richer country, that causes the problem. When the East joined somebody had better not been asleep as everybody else apparently was.
4. It is difficult within the EU legal framework if you want to be the nicest kid in the class. However who could come up with this madness?
And second it is the EU apparently there are the rules allowed with what you can get away with.
It is also about the perception that a country gives. Simply a speech like that saves you a few 1000s basketcases. Who probably go to Germany or up North.
This has to be managed one way or another and start with being unhospitable, appeal when you have a EC problem. Change it a little bit and start again from scratch, works pretty well in the South.
Not beautiful, I agree, but the best thing possible at the moment. Will have to be changed by the reneg anyway. Hard to see EU-in getting a majority with 100K paupers coming in annually from the East.

Spelling almost certainly my mistake, or mistake u, o, oe depends on the langguage. And it ceratinly isnot pronounced like an o. Probably their lack of education.

Gherson Immigration said...

With regard to immigrants claiming benefits, the problem is not immigrants coming in but the benefit system. The benefit system as a whole should be further looked at. There have been changes here, but unfortunately they seem to be focussed on gaining the desired newspaper headlines rather than making changes that mean benefits are there for the reasons they were intended - helping those who need assistance while not making it possible to take advantage of them.

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