Colin's Journal

Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.

February 17th, 2004

Another lost opportunity

It looks like the UK might join almost every other existing EU state, and impose restrictions on the citizens of those new member states looking for work. Although this is unlikely to affect may people, because the number looking for work in the UK is not going to be very large, it is still bad news.

The two major issues I have with this are:

1 – You have the right as an EU citizen to live and work anywhere in the EU. This is one of the most visible benefits of EU membership, and so it should be absolutely protected. The idea that an EU state can shut its borders to some EU citizens and not others makes EU citizenship a joke.

2 – This action lends credibility to those who think immigration from new member states is a problem. The government, having acted, has endorsed this view point, and left in people’s mind the idea that the government “had to do something” to solve this “problem”. When no major migration does occur, and the restrictions are lifted, very few will notice. The perception left in people’s minds will be that EU expansion equals a migration problem, and therefore any future expansion is a problem.

It would have been nice if we could have learnt from the introduction of the Euro. Just prior to the introduction of the currency, both in real terms and in terms of notes and coins, there were numerous scare stories about how bad the resulting chaos would be. Despite this, continental governments ploughed on regardless, and there was a virtually flawless introduction of the single currency. These governments could have run around talking about contingency plans, but this would have led to a public perception of likely failure, and maybe even a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead they stuck to their original plans, and so the scary stories are now seen as just that, instead of warnings that had to be acted upon.

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Copyright 2015 Colin Stewart

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