Free movement is here to stay - The Observer, 8 Jun. 2014


New Europeans wrote to the Observer to champion free movement and the rights of European citizens who live outside their home member states.

The letter was signed by business and trade union leaders, and by experts and academics.

The Observer on Sunday, 8 June 2014 

We are concerned that proposals to restrict the freedom of movement of people in the EU are gaining traction in the UK ("Labour must take tougher line on 'mass migration' from Europe, Miliband told", (News).

Free movement is a right exercised by millions and has made a major contribution to the prosperity of Europe over the past 30 years. It is the key to Britain's continued economic recovery. Competition with Ukip for the anti-immigrant vote threatens to undermine support for Britain's continued membership of the EU.

What is needed is a more realistic approach to migration in the context of broader social change. Younger people, including young EU expats, enrich and sustain our economy as we age. Many Ukip voters have children and grandchildren who will benefit from the chance to study and work abroad. They should be careful what they wish for.

Movement of people will continue to ebb and flow as Europe emerges from recession. However, the migratory peaks of 2005 have been left far behind. We need to sharpen the public policy response to migration.

If Britain stays in the EU (and the opinion polls are moving that way), then free movement must be embraced. There is no prospect of restricting the right to free movement through treaty change.

We invited leading figures from our network of experts and contacts in the trade union movement, business and academia to co-sign the letter. The signatories to the letter were:

Roger Casale, Chair, New Europeans

Frances O'Grady, General secretary of the TUC 

Roland Rudd, Chairman of Business for New Europe

Juliet Lodge, Emeritus professor of European studies, University of Leeds

Simon Hix, Professor of European and comparative politics at the London School of Economics

Dr. Julie Smith, Director, European Centre at Polis, Cambridge University

Don Flynn, Director, Migrant Rights Network

Dr. Majella Kilkey, Reader in social policy, University of Sheffield

 

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