New settlement for the UK: A bad day for the EU

22 Feb 2016

The 28 heads of state and government of the EU Member States have agreed on a new settlement for the UK within the EU. What has been decided unanimously actually puts at risk two of the founding pillars of the EU: the principles of non-discrimination and the free movement of labour, deplores CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger.

New settlement for the UK: A bad day for the EU

According to the adopted decision, the principle of ‘free movement of workers … may be subject to limitations on grounds of public policy, public security or public health … If overriding reasons of public interest make it necessary, free movement of workers may be restricted by measures proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued.’

In case the UK votes to stay a member of the EU, the EU regulation on the freedom of movement for workers within the EU is to be amended. The Council could then authorise Member States to restrict access to in-work benefits ‘in situations of inflow of workers from other Member States of an exceptional magnitude over an extended period of time.’

This would be a clear restriction to the barrier-less free movement of workers. CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger said: “This would mean that EU foreign nationals might not be receiving the same benefits as UK nationals even when they are performing the same job and pay the same taxes and social security contributions.”

What is more, the new laws could even have implications beyond migrant workers in the UK. Klaus Heeger added: “In an amended EU legislative text, the new rules would apply across the EU. Any Member State could then work towards similar restrictions of equal treatment of mobile workers. This is a tragic signal for fair mobility and the social Europe we are trying to build.”