2014-01-10
Roderick Parkes
no. 3 (598)

British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that the EU’s free movement regime is encouraging “benefit tourism.” Citing the particular example of Polish workers, he stated his intention to revisit treaty agreements, not least in order to prevent EU citizens claiming welfare benefits for family members not resident in the UK. In so doing, he is seeking to marshal a coalition of Western states, notably Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, to restrict migration within the EU, hinting also at the possible introduction of quotas. Poland’s robust response to David Cameron has been widely welcomed as an example of that nation’s commitment to free movement and as a political coming of age. In reality, though, the episode risks undermining both its political principles and its long-term positioning in the EU. Poland must clarify that free movement is about short-term mobility and not long-term migration. Rather than engaging with the UK, Poland must quarantine it politically.

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