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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

David Cameron and his Ministers continue to tread fine line on EU migration reform

UPDATE: The Prime Minister has now given his conference speech. This is the passage on EU migration:
"Immediate access to our welfare system, paying benefits to families back home, employment agencies signing up people from overseas, not recruiting here, numbers that have increased faster than we in this country wanted and at a level that was too much for our communities and for our labour markets. All of this has to change and it will be at the very heart of my renegotiation strategy for Europe. Britain: I know you want this sorted, so I will go to Brussels, I will not take no for an answer and when it comes to free movement I will get what Britain needs."
So, no new policy announcement today. However, David Cameron's reference to the "numbers that have increased" and "at a level that was too much for our communities" leaves the question we posed below hanging. He could argue that tackling migrants' access to benefits (particularly in-work benefits) will help with the numbers, as it could reduce the incentive for some to migrate, particularly those at the lower end of the job market. Will he be prepared (or be allowed) to stop there?

Original post: The Times and the Mail today both feature stories on the increasing pressure on David Cameron to take a stronger stance on migration from the EU.

The Times suggests that senior figures within his party are calling on him to use his renegotiation to explore the introduction of quotas on migrants from existing EU member states. It quotes London Mayor Boris Johnson saying that
“We all want change, we all want a renegotiation. We want sensible control of the numbers of people coming in. I think you would agree that it is the right and duty of every state to have some idea of how many people want to settle in its boundaries, what jobs they propose to do there, and how much they cost the local authorities. Isn’t that fair enough?”
As we have noted before, the free movement debate is about fairness and volume. So far, David Cameron and his Ministers have concentrated on the former - rules on migrants' access to benefits can be changed through secondary EU legislation via QMV and co-decision with MEPs and there is widespread support for addressing the issue among like-minded countries in Northern Europe. David Cameron is also on the record saying that he wants new conditions placed on migrants from countries that join the EU in future. However, the latter issue, addressing the numbers of migrants coming from existing EU member states is much tougher - it means addressing what is seen as a fundamental tenet of the EU and altering it would require unanimous agreement, almost certainly via treaty change.

Home Secretary Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond have both been quoted on the subject today, but both have stuck to line that an 'emergency brake' or measures to tackle the numbers of migrants would apply to new members of the EU, not existing ones.

May said:
"This is an area where David Cameron and I have said we need to look to the future to talk about the rules, particularly for countries coming into the EU in the future, and putting some sort of brake on their access to full free movement. For example, one idea we’ve suggested is they shouldn’t have full free movement rights until their GDP, their economy, is at a certain level compared to other economies within the EU."
Similarly, Hammond told an Open Europe fringe event that:
“It isn’t going to be enough just to look at benefit abuse...We are going to have to look at how we accommodate future new member states with the implementation of free movement, future new member states and how we restrict them. We are going to have to look at how we deal with destabilising flows."
There has been speculation that Cameron will address the issue in some way in his conference speech today, it will be interesting to see how he treads what is an increasingly fine line.


Average Englishman said...

Boris's entire premise is completely unacceptable. I am seriously unimpressed and Boris will not stop the flood of Tory defectors to UKIP like this.

The Prime Minister of the UK should not have to get on his knees in Brussels to beg for quotas for migrants to be introduced. He is charged by the people of the UK with the defence of the Realm and that includes preventing invasions from migrant workers as much as it does invasions from armies of soldiers or terrorists.

Our beloved Dave must grow a backbone and either get a full list of powers back from Brussels for the UK (including full border controls, fishing rights, legal supremacy, etc., etc.,) or get the UK out of the EUSSR altogether.

There are no prizes for guessing whether Dave will do this or continue with weasel words instead to try and fob off the electorate with another piece of paper proclaiming a meaningless minor victory. There are also no prizes for guessing what the Average Englishman requires of his Government in this situation.

Rollo said...

They do not tread a line at all. They spout platitudes with no meaning and no chance of implementation. They may have been taking gobbledegook lessons from Miliband.

Jesper said...

Like-minded countries in Northern Europe?
That means Sweden is out, Swedish politicians are on record saying that anyone arguing for more restrictive immigration policies than Sweden currently have are racists xenophobes.
Swedish politicians are also on record saying that they are working to change all EU-countries policies to be as the policy in Sweden.

So in short, count on Sweden being actively against whatever initiative comes out from the UK in regards to migration.

Anonymous said...

The interests of the UK and the countries where the majority of (unskilled) immigrants are coming from are diametrically opposed.

The more people that leave there and come to the UK, the more the jobs for everyone who stays behind and the less the state has to pay out in unemployment benefits. Let's not even mention the impact on public services here and our culture.

Added to that is the fact that countries like Poland stand to receive EUR10Bn from now until 2020 in EU handouts.

The UK government paid GBP5Bn in tax credits to immigrants last year. Once home, it appears that the UK also has to pay their unemployment benefits, despite the fact that they paid NI but were receiving tax credits.

Having seen the above, why would any EU country agree to Cameron's treaty change idea?!

It is all fluff designed to get himself re-elected and hoodwink the electorate, yet again. But, better him than Labour.

The only way is OUT. Let's leave these buffoons to run Europe into the ground.

After that we have to hold our own politicians to account for their treasonous behaviour that has so changed this country for the poorer - and all without the permission of the electorate.


Average Englishman said...

Dave's assessment of "what Britain needs" is likely to be significantly different from the assessment of most people in the UK. All very vague; as one would expect.

Dave may 'talk the talk' but does anyone really believe that he will regain full control of our borders considering the basic dictums of the EUSSR requiring 'free movement of citizens' and 'ever closer union'? I think not.

AuntyEUnice said...

If we must remain glued to the EU, and it appears the idiots in charge who inherited the idiotic rules argue that we must, I would suggest an internal EU visa system. If I want to holiday any work I do in an other country is deemed illegal and any benefit request refused with my visa expiring after my stated length of stay, an extension can easily be granted should I have the means to stay for an extended holiday and will not be a burden on the country I'm visiting. If I want to visit for work purposes e.g. a business trip the same, if I want to work my qualifications, health records and previous convictions must be made available so the country I wish to work in can determine if I am a suitable candidate for working and living there. If I wish to retire to an other country it should be reasonable for them to want to know as mush about me as they do about their own, and if I have murdered anyone or cannot finance myself it should be reasonable to be turned down. We live in 2014, we have technology coming out of our ears and with the authorities wanting to know all they can about us here is an ideal method to collect it and protect us all from the travelling criminal, terrorist, people and drug traffickers they needed the foul EAW as an excuse to fight, even though it was the bringing down of internal borders that promoted it.
Yes it may cost, but it may well prevent the benefit row that is happening and would probably have prevented the epidemic of crime perpetuated by those from less than civilised areas taking our common decency for weakness and murdering and stealing from us.
There again 'they' don't really care, the freedom of movement isn't about employment or society it's about the dream and that isn't to be shaken or altered no matter who loses out or is murdered because of it.