January 1st, 2014 was celebrated around the world in many ways.
Some chose parties, while others preferred more relaxed activities such as family dinners.
Others, like Mr Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, spent New Year at Luton airport in London greeting incoming passengers on flights from Romania.
While the public panic indicated that one million immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria are expected to swamp the UK labour market after the transitional restrictions on freedom of movement for workers from these countries have been removed, the UK’s Migration Watch said it did not expect a “sudden rush” of Bulgarians and Romanians to the country.
The Financial Times (12 January) further reported that, in fact, the number of Romanian migrants into the EU have steadily dropped since 2007, with 2012 setting the lowest record in a decade.
However this news will not satisfy Mr Cameron who, on 4 January, said he would make cutting immigration a top priority as he seeks to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Brussels.
Surprisingly the not very pro-EU country, the UK, found an ally in the very pro-EU Germany, where a similar debate over EU immigration is heating up.
In Germany, the debate on immigration has been dividing Germany’s new coalition government made up of Mrs Merkel’s CDU, its Bavarian sister party, CSU, and the SPD.
Given the extensive attention to the topic, the European Parliament held (on 15 January) an exchange of views on freedom of movement within the EU with the Greek Presidency and the European Commission.
Commissioner Viviane Reding who is responsible for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, firmly stated that the right to free movement is not negotiable but is a direct consequence of EU membership.
Commissioner Laszlo Andor, responsible for employment, social affairs and inclusion, added that people go to places where they find jobs; therefore they are actually net contributors to the GDP and to the social welfare system they are accused of abusing.
I too share the view that free movement is one of the EU’s key achievements. Without that we cannot have a single market.
At the same time I agree that exceptional cases of abuse do happen, but it’s up to the Member States to take appropriate measures to tackle such cases.
Targeting the freedom of movement as a whole is a really bad step, going in completely the wrong direction.
Greetings from the European Parliament,
Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg
The articles mentioned in the post are available in the following links:
Migration Watch UK Expects ‘No Sudden Rush’ of Bulgarians, Romanians
Romanian in no rush to move to “racist” UK