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Can someone explain the free movement thing to me, please?

(54 Posts)
knottedwood Tue 28-Jun-16 12:27:16

I'm a Remainer, I've done well out of the EU, freedom of movement etc. has worked for me.
BUT it's clear that
a) it has genuinely undermined some people's livelihoods; and/or
b) it is a convenient thing for other people to blame for wider dissatisfaction/ alienation

Whatever anyone thinks about the rights or wrongs of immigration, it's been a massively hot political potato for ages.

Given this, and (particularly) given the strength of feeling that's been made unignorable by the referendum result, why doesn't Britain, temporarily, put restrictions on the movement of people in/out of Britain?

My (untutored) reading of relevant bit of EU stuff on Wikipedia (great source, I know) suggests that this WOULD be possible:

- it says that "subject to limitations justified on grounds of public policy, public security or public health" people are allowed to
- accept offers of employment, be employed, and having BEEN employed, remain in other member states.

a) why can't a temporary suspension 'on the grounds of public policy' be brought in?
b) why can't free movement - with a job offer - be allowed, but not otherwise.

wowfudge Tue 28-Jun-16 12:40:08

Because we are a member of the EU and have accepted FoM as a tenet of membership. As DC has stated, our membership continues on the same basis as it has been until we actually leave.

FoM is not a bad thing. Unemployment in the UK is at a low at the moment. EU citizens from other member states are doing jobs UK citizens aren't taking up and keeping the economy going. UK citizens are living and working in other EU member states. Why would it make sense in public policy terms to suspend FoM into the UK? It wouldn't.

PlatoTheGreat Tue 28-Jun-16 12:49:21

It's not possible because the UK is still part of the EU and the free movement of people is one of the 4 basic principles of the EU.

Beside, free movement doesn't mean 'if you have a job offer'. Free movement means just that. You can go and live where ever you want.
Think about it like moving from Scotland or NI to England. There is free movement, people can go and settle where they want, with or wo a job.
Same if you are part of the EU.

That's a principle that a lot of British people have been very happy to use to go and settle in France, Spain etc...
And some people in EU have done the same.

Mistigri Tue 28-Jun-16 12:53:27

Free movement means just that. You can go and live where ever you want.

It doesn't - free movement is specifically about free movement of labour - the freedom to move to take or seek work. There has been at least one recent case in the European court which has confirmed this.

Pensioners can take advantage of free movement too, of course, but they remain dependent upon their home nation to pay for pensions and medical care.

ApricotSorbet99 Tue 28-Jun-16 12:54:01

The questions you've asked actually highlight the problem some people have with levels of immigration.

Those public policy exemptions will relate to individuals and allow us the right to (for example) allow in someone infected with a deadly disease or a known mass murderer.

They do not allow us to temporarily close the borders because we're too full.

Currently, we have absolutely no control over how many of the EU's 500 million people we become home to. None whatsoever.

And there's little question that mass immigration is bringing serious problems with it - although it's also highly beneficial in an enormous number of ways too.

Many leavers simply want the right to decide who comes into our country in much the same way as pretty much every other nation on earth (outside of the EU) can.

Under EU law it is illegal for us to demand that anyone has either a job or a particular skill in order to live here.

I voted Remain but most of my area voted leave, and I know why. Our town has been truly swamped by Eastern European immigrants. This has been fantastic in many, many ways......we finally have dentists again, the high street is no longer full of closed shops, small businesses are booming....we're a busy town on the way back up again.

However, it is close to impossible to find rental accommodation here anymore, homelessness rates are up, our doctors surgeries are no longer taking new patients and all the schools (especially nursery and primary) are oversubscribed.

We have no new infrastructure to help us cope and it's difficult to plan for any when we have no way of knowing how many people it will have to cater for in the future.

This a problem and if we'd ever been allowed to properly address it without being called "racist, xenophobic, Little Englanders" then maybe the result of the ref would have gone another way.

But to answer your question...those two suggestions are currently illegal under EU law. Simple as that.

PlatoTheGreat Tue 28-Jun-16 13:02:08

I'm not so sure aboout medical care for pensioners.
I'm aware for example of any Brits in Spain or France who have had to take a private medical insurance. Nor have any EU pensioners here.
The reason is that pensioners here will have their own NI number, because they are paying taxes like everyone else (They do have to pay taxes here on ALL the money they receive in their original country too, not just what they are bringing to the UK btw).
I believe this might be different for students.

And yes it's about workers.
However it's also pensioners, students, family members, job seeker etc etc...
There isn't a lot of cases where you can say 'Hold on. You shouldn't be here!'

PlatoTheGreat Tue 28-Jun-16 13:02:54

Sorry it was
I am NOT aware of any Brits needing a special health insurrance in Spain.

PattyPenguin Tue 28-Jun-16 13:04:19

Official word on whether or not people can just move to another member state without means of support (that could be a job, a pension, private means, etc.)

Directive 2004/38/EC

"For stays of over three months: the right of residence is subject to certain conditions. EU citizens and their family members — if not working — must have sufficient resources and sickness insurance to ensure that they do not become a burden on the social services of the host Member State during their stay. citizens do not need residence permits, although Member States may require them to register with the authorities. "

Spain does exactly this. All EU citizens, including UK citizens, have to sign on the register of non-Spanish citizens, and to do that they need a certain amount of income or savings or both, per person including children. The exact requirement vary from region to region.

They also have to show that they will be paying into the social security system in order to get state health coverage, or have comprehensive health insurance - but that's because the Spanish health system is contribution based, not residence based as the UK system is.

The UK has always been able to make similar demands under EU law. It just hasn't done so.

PattyPenguin Tue 28-Jun-16 13:08:23

Plato, UK citizens need private health insurance in Spain, unless they are paying into the Spanish healthcare system (job / self employment therefore paying social security contributions, covered by the UK if on a state pension, paying into the convenio especial in some regions, registered as resident before April 2014).

UK Government info on this here

Mistigri Tue 28-Jun-16 13:19:13

UK pensioners living in EU states are covered on the same basis as locals, except that the UK foots the bill. In most EU states, government health insurance does not cover all your healthcare costs: you have to take out top up insurance. It's not really "private health insurance" though.

In the same way, I'm a fully paid up member of the French healthcare system based on my social security contributions, but the government still only pays for 70% of my healthcare; the rest is covered by a top-up insurance that is paid for jointly by me and my employer.

PlatoTheGreat Tue 28-Jun-16 13:43:30

So you are saying that to be able to have access to the health insurrance of the country you need to pay into it, just like anyone else.

I'm struggling to see that as an issue.
I know some french people who struggled to have access to the french health care system when they came back from abroad (no job at the time, the move back was unplanned due to ill health).

I'm surprised that anyone could think you would have free access to health care wo paying into it!

knottedwood Tue 28-Jun-16 14:05:15

Thank you - v helpful. I am (personally!) v pro-immigration - it's just that given the political fall-out, I've been wondering why nothing has been done.

It seems to me that each EU member has its own way of interpreting and managing EU rules and directives - not all countries do things in the same way. So, for e.g., the UK is utterly ignoring what the EU says about air pollution - is in massive breach, and has no plans to change things. But we do implement (more or less) the rules about equality of access - unlike the Netherlands, which has totally inaccessible toilets all over the place.

I still don't get, though, what 'public policy' means. Why can't 'public policy' include for e.g. lack of infrastructure?

And PattyPenguin's point - WHY, given that we DO have the option to restrict the free movement of people (cf of 'workers' - with offers of employment) - why don't we? What has prevented this?

SapphireStrange Tue 28-Jun-16 14:15:58

Immigration/free movement is good for the UK. We have an ageing population/low birth rate. Those closed shops are markers of a town in the doldrums; having 'dentists again' and booming small businesses would and should be happening if we had a better birth rate.

Problems of housing, homelessness, doctors and schools are much more to do with years and years of poor government policy and planning, and ever-more drastic cuts to services, than they are to do with EU residents.

PlatoTheGreat Tue 28-Jun-16 14:18:58

knotted that's because it is NOT restricted to having a job.
You can become a resident of another european country in a lot of other cases, as explained in my previous post.

It's not as simple as stopping anyone who doesn't have a job.

PlatoTheGreat Tue 28-Jun-16 14:20:43

The only time when you could apply that restriction is if someone is arriving in the UK on their own, unabled to work (eg because of disability) and is expecting the UK to look after them.

PlatoTheGreat Tue 28-Jun-16 14:21:22

And if that was the case, then I would go to another country rather than the UK. The UK has a quite poor record for that.....

allegretto Tue 28-Jun-16 14:21:46

Freedom of movement does not mean you can just go anywhere and stay there. I live in Italy and would have to pay for healthcare if I didn't have a job. You need to show you can support yourself. In Italy there are lots of Eastern Europeans who work as carers. Without them these jobs were largely unfilled as Italians didn't want them!

PastoralCare Tue 28-Jun-16 14:24:07

The main irony, and why the referendum was a waste of time, and probably a lot of money too, is that even if by miracle we actually go ahead and starts proceedings to disentangle ourselves from the E.U. we will try to renegotiate so that everything stays the same.

Even Boris said so (no change to trade, free movement of people...)

SapphireStrange Tue 28-Jun-16 14:52:57

Care, I know. What a farce.

knottedwood Tue 28-Jun-16 22:13:57

It feels to me as if in the modern, global world each country is either a destination or a departure point. And I'd rather live in a destination...

ManonLescaut Tue 28-Jun-16 22:22:20

Even Boris said so (no change to trade, free movement of people...)

He did, and the EU basically told him to fuck off. I think Merkel's words were 'you can't cherry pick'.

A4Document Tue 28-Jun-16 22:58:00

They can't cherry pick what the UK offers either. Negotiation works both ways and hasn't yet begun.

Mistigri Wed 29-Jun-16 07:32:55

Negotiation only "works both ways" if you assume that both sides hold cards of equal value (they don't) and that both sides run the same risks if negotiations fail.

peggyundercrackers Wed 29-Jun-16 07:57:54

Mistigirl your right however the UK is in a strong position because counties like Germany make a lot of money from the UK - take their car makers for example a the UK is one of their biggest markets, they want to keep trading with the U.K., they cant afford to not trade with the U.K. The UK is also one of the few countries who's economy is in a good position unlike Italy's for example.

babybythesea Wed 29-Jun-16 08:05:18

Also, with regards to numbers of immigrants, the number of immigrants from outside the EU is nearly twice that of inside, and their position won't change. I think it was 7.9 million from outside the EU compared to 4.5 or thereabouts between 1995 and 2011. And they gave a net contribution to the economy of about £4 billion. So the underfunding of services etc was not because they were draining money away from the UK taxpayer, they were the UK taxpayer. Not their fault the government chose austerity and not to invest that money in services. That was domestic policy and nothing o do with the EU.

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