"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Monday 16 December 2013

Clegg slams proposed EU immigration cap

A leaked report has revealed a cap on EU immigration to the UK is under government consideration, reports the Sunday Times.  

The Home Office document suggests the capping of EU immigration to 75,000 annually from the current 183,000.

In response to the leak, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on Monday said: “My advice to the Home Office is to spend less time leaking policies that are illegal and undeliverable and spend more time delivering on the policies that we have agreed as a coalition government.

It would be very unwelcome to the two million or so Brits who live and work abroad, who I don't think would thank the Conservative Party for entering into a sort of tit-for-tat race to the bottom, where everybody across the European Union starts pulling up the drawbridge and not allowing people to move to look for work in other parts of the European Union,” he added.

Following Nick Clegg’s intervention, Home Secretary Theresa May insisted the cap would only apply to future EU member states in speaking to the home affairs select committee.

This contradicts a statement she made prior to a ministerial meeting in Brussels earlier this month where she indicated Britain would back a future cap on EU immigration. May’s suggestions to place greater restrictions on free movement at the meeting were sharply dismissed by the European Commission. 

Last week EU Commissioner Laszlo Andor said the EU Commission would intervene over new tests for migrants if necessary

The report, the migration section of a government review of the UK and EU’s balance of competences, investigates the impact of free movement on the UK.

Its publication comes just weeks ahead of the lifting of labour restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian nationals in January.

Other proposals in the report, as reported by the Sunday Times, include limiting the immigration of workers from new EU member states to the UK until their GDP is 75 per cent of the UK’s, a proposal which Prime Minister David Cameron floated last month in an article for the Financial Times.

“When other countries join the European Union we should be insisting on longer transitions and perhaps even saying until you reach a proper share of an average European Union GDP you can't have freedom of movement,” said Cameron.

Further proposals in the review include restricting the labour movement of highly skilled migrants to the UK from countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Austria to those with a UK job offer.

Lower-skilled workers would only be allowed to settle in the UK if they have a job which features on an approved list of occupations which are part of a national shortage list.

EU immigrants would have no recourse to public funds for their first five years in the UK and some jobs would be explicitly reserved for UK citizens, reports the Sunday Times.  

Last week Iain Duncan Smith announced new measures to limit migrants’ access to benefits, including an English test. The move may see the European Commission, which believes current safeguards in place to protect host member states from abuse are sufficient, challenge the UK with court action.

In the year ending June 2013, EU immigration to the UK was 183,000, an increase on the previous year.

The government has pledged to reduce net migration to less than 100,000 a year by the next election.

The free movement of workers, one of four fundamental freedoms of the EU, does not allow for discrimination between workers of member states based on nationality.

Any move by the UK government to cap EU immigration is expected to be blocked by the EU since it would require a change in EU legislation. Alternatively, the UK would have to exit the EU. 

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