LETTERS From Catherine Bearder, MEP for South East England:
AT last week’s deputy prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons, Andrew Turner MP questioned Nick Clegg about the coalition’s policy on migrants from the EU.
This is a topical question with regards to Romanians and Bulgarians, who have had working restrictions lifted in the UK from January 1.
There has been much scaremongering surrounding this topic and I would like to reply to that here.
Firstly, the government is merely strengthening current measures already in place as EU migrants have never been able to claim benefits immediately upon arrival in the UK.
Secondly, Bulgarians and Romanians have had the right to visa-free travel in the UK since they joined the EU in 2007 but with restrictions on what jobs they could take — it is only these restrictions which have been lifted.
The UK does very well out of immigration. Our economy benefits from newcomers, who are generally younger and are less likely to claim benefits. When they work, they pay taxes and our economy benefits. Even Nigel Farage recognises this, as must Andrew Turner.
Finally, free movement means the UK gains skilled workers who play a vital role in public life and UK emigrants can live and work freely within the EU.
What would happen to those two million Brits living and working across the EU if we left the union?
The UK needs to sort out its own legislation on benefit entitlement, which is not a fault of the EU.
We also need to make sure all our legislation on working standards and minimum pay are enforced.
That way, we can benefit from those who want to come here to work and pay taxes, without putting at risk the jobs of this country’s residents.