Thursday, 26 October 2017

Mrs May at the EU summit

Last Tuesday, Mrs May's report back from the EU Council was interesting for two reasons. One was what she did say about immigration, and the other was what she did not say about free movement.

She reported that:

On migration, the UK is playing its full part. The Royal Navy has intercepted 172 smuggling boats and saved more than 12,000 lives since Operation Sophia began. Our National Crime Agency is working with Libyan law enforcement, enhancing its capability to tackle the people-smuggling and trafficking networks. At the Council, we welcomed the reduction in migrant crossings and the renewed momentum behind the Libyan political process; but we must also continue to address the root causes driving people across the Sahara and the Mediterranean, so the UK is also continuing to invest for the long term in education, jobs and services, both in countries of origin and countries of transit.

If all 28 nations follow up these fine words with action, there is hope for the desperate in Africa and Asia. However, one recalls the promises of support for North African nations in the wake of terrorist trouble there. The funds which several rich nations, including France, had pledged have proved to be illusory. I would like to see the UK holding the other 27 to account over this resolution.

The answer to the difficulties caused to Italy, Spain and Greece by immigrants can only be solved by providing facilities closer to home, on the African continent. Or will we continue to deal only with those migrants who survive the vicious people-traffickers and the perilous Mediterranean sea-crossing in a some sort of Darwinian exercise, as a character in the recent Swedish thriller Black Lake remarked?

The item which appeared to have slipped Mrs May's mind was reported by France24:

Most European Union states agreed on Monday on reforming the bloc's labour rules that poorer countries value for giving them a competitive edge but French President Emmanuel Macron criticises for undercutting his workers.

The issue of the so-called posted workers pits wealthier countries against poorer peers keen to preserve current rules that allow their citizens to work elsewhere in the bloc for salaries higher than they would get at home but still lower than the local labour force.
Macron has put reforming the so-called posting of workers directive high on the EU's agenda and is backed by Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, among others.
After some 12 hours of negotiations among labour ministers in Luxembourg, most of the EU's 28 members backed a compromise that would cap posting workers abroad at 18 months and introduce a four-year transition between reaching a final agreement on the reform and its taking effect.
But Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland said they could not back the proposal, while Ireland, Britain and Croatia abstained over concerns that the new rules would hurt their transport industries.
[my emphasis] So the UK government did not support one of the main demands of the Leavers in last year's referendum, that people from the other 27 should not come into Britain to undercut earnings here. One suspects that it was also horticulture and the NHS which the government wanted to protect. It was a sensible stance, in my opinion, but it was a pity that Mrs May could not have been open about it.

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