Demand #2: Restriction of EU migrant rights

Part 1 of our series on Cameron’s renegotiation demands

, by Milo Barnett

Demand #2: Restriction of EU migrant rights

After the much-anticipated publication of his demands for EU reform, it is now clear that one of David Cameron’s key demands is that all migrants wishing to come to the UK most have a job lined up before being allowed in to the UK.

I believe that is fundamentally wrong both from a practical point of view and indeed ideologically. People that travel to the UK and want to live here must be already fairly confident of getting work -whether as a plumber, plasterer or palaeontologist. One must already have the skills to qualify for jobs and the UK economy is in need of the jobs that migrant labour can provide. Contrary to the message spread by many British media outlets, these people are here to work not simply to take social security benefits.

It’s a huge effort for someone to move, let alone move between entire countries. These people are moving away from friends and family and even their culture to come to an alien environment in search of a new life. All this effort is not made with the sole intention of claiming a small weekly allowance from the state - a process which would undoubtedly be much easier and cheaper in their home nations. These people are here to work and these people are the engine that keeps the British economy going.

Many complaints that ordinary people have with migration are caused by different factors: how unfairly the British economy is structured and how it’s focused too much on London and the South East of England. Government policy only serves to fuel this and so Cameron utilises immigrants as a useful scapegoat. Like all his demands, the requirement for EU citizens to have a guaranteed job prior to moving to the UK is being brought up for political reasons and Cameron wants to redirect blame for the shortcomings of the British economy onto the EU and immigrants.

This technique of playing the political blame-game is nothing new, though. The Conservative government has tried to enact similar policies for non-EU citizens as well. For example, any foreign student studying in Britain must now leave the country as soon as they graduate. Under the previous system students had several months to look for jobs in the UK. If immediately unsuccessful in their search for graduate work, they must leave and there is little leeway for allowing more time for job seeking.

At the expense of what is best for the United Kingdom, Cameron is simply interested in political point-scoring and the easiest way to combat any UKIP threat he may face in the future is to jump on the scapegoating bandwagon and blame immigrants and the European Union. By denying residence and working rights to these people, the government is hurting people already in the UK. Whether that’s preventing a doctor or nurse immigrating and taking up work in the National Health Service or damaging the economy by denying tax revenue.

Quite simply, the UK needs immigration as it keeps the country going. In a globalised world, no country on earth is self-sufficient countries trade skills and people, cultures and religions move around. There are thousands of immigrants in Europe from Britain and therefore it’s only logical that people from Europe come to the UK, also. Contrary to the claims of the tabloid press, the people who come here come here to fill vacancies and create jobs, not take them. Cameron’s demand would make the already difficult immigration process even more complex add another layer of bureaucracy onto system which is already overcomplicated. Cameron’s goals are party-political and not intended for the betterment of the UK or its people.

As Europeans, we need to oppose the UK government’s demand for immigrants’ job guarantees because if we sacrifice the free movement of people, the slippery slope towards removing more of our European rights begins.

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