Brussels has launched stern warnings to the UK, after the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said in an article in the Financial Times plans to hinder access of new immigrants from other EU countries, to change benefits from the social system and even to deport those without work and resources.
The UK is at risk of being perceived as “a very unpleasant country” if it goes ahead with the measures confirmed today by the government, has warned EU Commissioner Laszlo Andor.
The EU executive vice president, Viviane Reding, was even more blunt: “If Britain wants to leave the single market, it will have to continue to belong to the single market, with freedom of movement” Reding said.
While Cameron presented this project and the philosophy behind it, which according to Brussels violates the right of free movement in the Community, the pressure of the conservative press and the rise of anti-immigration party UKIP have forced the prime minister to take intransigent roles in order to strengthen his leadership.
Tabloids like the Daily Mail will publish covers bearing populist messages portraying the arrival of immigrants as a curse, especially those immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria that may arrive beginning in January 2014. That’s the date that will see the end of restrictions from the European Union to Romanians and Bulgarians who will be free to enter the job market in any of the member countries. This is viewed with apprehension by the general public.
Cameron has stood up to Brussels to announce that new immigrants cannot collect unemployment benefits during the first three months of stay (suggesting the vocation of abuse of the British public system) or claim immediate subsidies for housing, which in recent decades has contributed to the integration of millions of foreigners, not only from the EU but from non-member countries. Those who beg or sleep on the streets are deported with no chance of returning to British soil within one year.
The new measures, ensures the Tory politician, want to respond to the “deep concern of the British” to the levels of immigration from Romania and Bulgaria, although its government has not sought estimates on the numbers of this hypothetical avalanche of illegals.
In the background of this hardening of discourse there is the underlying intention by London to renegotiate with the other community partners the rules of free movement in the European space, as Cameron points out in his article. It cannot be “indiscriminate”, he says.
The Prime Minister in this regard suggests that freedom of movement is limited to citizens of countries with similar average EU income. “We’re changing the rules,” he writes, to justify that the British public system can no longer be generous, in a message that has resonated with the special voter who suffers in times of cutbacks.
Cameron’s diatribe passes blame to the previous Labour governments, now in opposition, to the application of very “soft” immigration policies that shot up in the UK until they were “out of control”. But above all, the head of the British government points to the promised referendum on UK membership of the EU, to be held during the next term by the end of 2017.
He personally does not share the desire of many fellow soldiers to leave the Union, but to fight Eurosceptics he proposes a “new relationship” with Europe that includes rewriting the rules.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 16 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Luis obtained his Journalism degree from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, where he graduated in Mass Media Communication in 1998. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Among his most distinguished interviews are: Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres and James Hansen from NASA Space Goddard Institute. Read more about Luis.