Government accused of misleading public on European migration

By staff writers
January 11, 2014

UK government ministers are scaremongering without evidence about European migration to avoid "real subjects in the UK", says Viviane Reding, vice president of the European Commission responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

"This supposed invasion of foreigners coming to the UK and stealing the jobs and stealing the social security and the health money. The facts and figures, and we all know this, show it is simply not true", she declared.

In a speech earlier this week, Ms Reding continued: "What is leadership if you just try, with populistic movements and populistic speech, to gain votes? You are destroying the future of your people.

"That is what I'm really worried about. That is why I ask help from all the reasonable forces in Great Britain in order calmly to explain what Europe is about and what Europe can do and what Europe cannot do, what Europe does and what Europe does not do; because most of the things which are told to the people in Great Britain are myths, have nothing to do with reality."

The reality is that, as far as Britain is concerned, post-1999 immigrants from the European Economic Area (EAA) have been credited with a net contribution to the economy.

In fact, there are more UK citizens in the the rest of the EU then there are non-British EU citizens in the UK.

Moreover, UK citizens have the same rights to social support, when needed, as do those coming to the UK.

The free movement of people means EU citizens can move openly between member states to live, work, study or retire in another country. Workers have full rights to move in the EU, while moving for non-economic activity (for example, residence) have limited rights.

Free movement rights are not unlimited. Any stay beyond three months is limited to those who are workers, students, self-employed or self-sufficient. Those who are not working or seeking work in the UK are required to have sufficient resources to support themselves and their families, and they are also required to have comprehensive medical insurance.

Viviane Reding is a Luxembourg politician, currently serving as European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship.

She has spoken out strongly on the rights of Roma people, criticising the French government on the issue in 2010.

Ms Reding is a member of the Christian Democrat-oriented European People's Party.

* Immigration from the European Union:

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