Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Restrictions on Romanian/Bulgarian Entry

The government's response to Bulgarian and Romanian entry is so dissapointing. When we were one of three countries, along with Ireland and Sweden, to allow the earlier entrants immediate access I was genuinely proud and a little dissapointed at my own party for trying to score partisan points on the issue. Now we have reverted to the dismal European norm on this issue. Here is what the government's restrictions will not do:

1) Make much difference to the Romanian/Bulgarian impact in the job market - this only applies to unskilled workers who aren't working in food processing or agriculture.

2) Make any difference in the medium-long term - As EU members the Romanians and Bulgarians can't be denied the ability to move freely indefinitely. Why is immigration from these countries more dangerous now than in a couple of years time?

3) Make any difference to the kinds of difficulties we're having now with integrating immigrant communities - Eastern Europeans integrate easily.

Here is what the restrictions will do:

1) Make it more difficult to use the EU as a source of 'integration trouble free' immigration - as I set out in a response to the UKIP position on immigrants from Europe.

2) Upset the Romanians-Bulgarians - these nations could be our allies in Europe.

3) Be costly - in order to filter out almost no one, as set out in "what it won't do" point 1, we're going to have to maintain a system of permits which wouldn't be necessary if we treated them like proper EU members.

This is sordid, populist, democracy at its worst. If only someone credible could rise above it.

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