Saturday, November 29, 2014

EU Impact: Over-Migration in UK Potentially Could Force Great Britain from EU

According to AFP, Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday (November 28) promised tough curbs on welfare for EU migrants to counter a surge in arrivals and warned European leaders that resistance could put Britain's EU membership in doubt.
He said the package of reforms would require changes to existing European Union (EU) treaties, something all member states must agree to, but said he was "confident" that they could be agreed to.
Immigration to Britain has increased sharply in the past decade, putting pressure on public services, and PM Cameron is under pressure to address voters' concerns ahead of the May 2015 general election.
Cameron's Conservative Party is losing support to the UK Independence Party (UKIP), which advocates leaving the EU altogether as the only way to curb EU migration.
In a long-awaited speech on the issue, Cameron stopped short of calling for a cap on new arrivals or a mooted "emergency brake," which had caused consternation in EU capitals.
Yet, Cameron announced plans to make EU workers wait four years to receive income tax credits and access social housing, and vowed to stop them from claiming benefits for children living elsewhere in Europe.
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Cameron said the reforms, intended to make Britain less attractive, were an "absolute requirement" of his bid to renegotiate Britain's membership in the EU before holding an in-out referendum in 2017.
Cameron repeated that he wants Britain to stay in the EU but warned: "If our concerns fall on deaf ears and we cannot put our relationship with the EU on a better footing, then of course I rule nothing out."
Cameron briefed German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on his speech beforehand, aides said.
Afterwards, a Commission spokesman said the EU's executive arm was ready to discuss the proposals "calmly and carefully," adding: "We have to see what can be done without shutting the door."
Benefit tourism and the abuse of social welfare systems have become issues for voters across Europe and Cameron noted concerns about immigration in Germany and Italy.
Cameron said Britain had long benefited from immigration and condemned "deeply unpatriotic" calls to shut its borders. Yet, he said its economic growth and relatively generous welfare system had made it a "magnetic destination" for migrants and the government had to take back some control.
COMMENT: The PM asserted that the objective is to keep migration under 100,000, despite data that revealed that migration rose last year from 182,000 to 260,000. He insisted that repeated calls for restrictions on the rights of citizens of new EU nations to work in the UK until their economies improved in line with other members.

Many Tories in Cameron's party responded positively to the speech, including Mayor of London Boris Johnson, but eurosceptics warned it did not go far enough.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the measures would likely be challenged in the EU courts.

"While he may have taken away, potentially, one or two of the pull factors, you cannot control immigration as a member of the European Union because we have total open borders with the other member states," Farage told the BBC.

Since it took office in 2010, the coalition government has tightened visa restrictions for non-EU migrants, but European rules on freedom of movement mean it has little control over arrivals from within the EU.

Reports last month that Cameron was considering a cap on migrant numbers were condemned by the European Commission, and Merkel reportedly warned the prime minister that he was approaching a "point of no return."

Cameron said Friday that freedom of movement was "key to being part of the single market."

But he added: "I say to our European partners--we have real concerns. Our concerns are not outlandish or unreasonable. We deserve to be heard, and we must be heard."

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