08 October 2012

Government mulling UK immigration measures to limit EU freedom of movement

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The Home Secretary Theresa May is reportedly considering changing EU policy which would allow UK immigration authorities to limit the freedom of movement directive.

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The Government is trying to reduce net immigration to the UK and is now considering changes to EU policy.

The freedom of movement directive currently allows citizens of EU countries to live and work in any other country within the EU. Despite the Government's attempts to bring UK immigration down to the 'tens of thousands', the ability to make a real dent is hampered by the rights enshrined in the EU Treaty of 1957.

However, Mrs May now believes if she can gather the support of other member states such as the Netherlands, alterations to the Treaty rather than UK visa or immigration policy can be made which could limit the number of EU and non-EEA nationals entering the country.

"We are looking at this whole area of the abuse of the freedom of movement. But we will go further on this, and the issue of free movement will be part of the review," Mrs May said in interview with the Sunday Times.

Current figures estimate there are over two million nationals of EU member states currently living in the UK and Romania and Bulgaria are due to be given access to the free movement directive next year.

The main concerns for the Government are the lack of control they have over numbers of immigrants entering and the requirements needed before each can claim benefits.

"It will be looking at where the decision-making powers are between the EU and the UK, how they are operating and what the impact of those are," said the Home Secretary.

"That will then enable us to have a good evidence base on which to look at these issues.

"I was very clear that we wanted to make sure the free movement of persons was in that because I think it is an important issue that we need to look at."


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