EU Free Movement of People

Chancellor Merkel’s alleged warning to British Prime Minister Cameron that she would oppose any British attempt to interfere with the free movement of people is underlined by article 3 (c) of the original 1957 Treaty of Rome.

Now the Rome Treaty really is the EU “Charter of the Land”. All subsequent treaties – Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice, all the way to the Lisbon Treaty are additions to the Rome Treaty – they are not replacements for it.

After the title page and the list of signatories, the first section of the Treaty is PART ONE, PRINCIPLES. These PRINCIPLES are the essential foundations on which this Treaty and all the subsequent ones rest.

Article 3 of these PRINCIPLES says “. . . the activities of the Community[1] shall include, as provided in this Treaty and in accordance with the timetable set out therein:

(a) . . .

(b) . . .

(c) the abolition, as between Member States, of obstacles to freedom of movement for persons, services and capital;”

What could be clearer? Note that it says “persons”, which covers children, grandparents, students – everyone – not just labour as some in the Conservative hierarchy have suggested.

Freedom of movement is seen by EU politicians and citizens alike as fundamental to the existence of the EU.  As someone who has brought up a family on the Continent in two EU countries, and who retains many friendly links, I have never met anyone there who does not believe that the EU is a good thing, indeed a settled thing, in their lives.

From our perspective on this side of the Channel however, the real tragedy is that Cameron keeps on courting rebuffs and humiliation for Britain, to such an extent that there is now a real danger that our inevitable departure will be acrimonious instead of being constructive, as Prof Bush’s prize-winning Brexit essay “A Brexit Blueprint: Britain Revitalised and Independence Regained” describes so aptly on this website.

Awaiting Britain is a UK-EU Free Trade Agreement, like those signed by the EU with Canada and Korea (but much easier to negotiate since all tariffs are already zero). As a respected partner in the mooted UK-EU Parliamentary Council, Britain has all to play for.  Why doesn’t Cameron just go for it and be praised for his statesmanship and patriotism instead of being criticised here and abroad for his pretence that he can change a founding principle of the European Union.

End Note

[1] As it was called from 1957-1992.

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