Eurobriefs - the latest from Brussels
WORKERS, JUNE 2009 ISSUE
Whoops – they got it wrong
Immigration Minister Phil Woolas admitted on 12 May that the government’s policy on EU immigration had been wrong and that the government had not predicted the scale of new arrivals after the EU expanded in 2004.
The final three months of 2008 saw 29,000 applications to work in Britain from migrants from the ten countries that joined the EU in 2004. Since then the number of employed UK nationals had dropped by 200,000 and the number of migrants in work has grown substantially. Lord Mandelson told Parliament, “…nationals coming here from the [EU] are helping to fill gaps in our labour market our British nationals are either not available to fill or are unwilling to fill.” He continued, “There are jobs available for British nationals despite the circulation of workers that has resulted from EU enlargement.”
Zone of failure
Industrial production in the eurozone was down 20.2 per cent in March 2009 from March 2008, the steepest annual drop since records began in 1991. GDP for the whole eurozone shrank by 4.6 per cent on last year; Germany’s GDP was 6.9 per cent down.
Free to create crises
An article in the Financial Times earlier this year argued that the strain of the economic crisis was opening up divisions within the EU. But it went on to say “the [EU’s] four freedoms – free movement of goods, people, services and capital – are huge and tangible achievements. It would be terrible to see them rolled back”. No mention was made of the relationship between the “four freedoms” and the crisis.
On the BBC’s Daily Politics Show of 19 May, the presenter pointed out, “When I have interviewed in the past week Caroline Flint and a leading Conservative and I’ve asked them if they will insist that MEPs’ expenses are made public for the past four years, I cannot get an answer out of them.”
MEPs still do not publish their expenses. Both the Conservative and Socialist groupings in the European Parliament backed an amendment to ensure MEPs’ expenses remain secret.