Press release - Conservative MEPs will work to deliver PM's EU free movement reforms

27-Nov-2013 @ 12:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

As the Prime Minister announces proposals to change access to benefits for EU migrants, Conservative MEPs have formed a working group in Brussels aimed at highlighting the reforms that are needed to address the growing concern across much of Europe about freedom of movement in general.

The working group will be headed by Conservative immigration spokesman in the European Parliament, Timothy Kirkhope, a former UK Immigration Minister. It will report in a few weeks following talks with representatives of other EU countries and the European Commission. It will put forward further suggested reform that will hopefully gain support from a number of EU countries, towards restoring confidence in the principle of free movement of labour in the EU.

Mr Kirkhope said:

"These proposed changes to benefit eligibility say that if you want to come to the UK, work hard, and play by the rules, then you are welcome. But if you are coming because you think we are a soft touch then you should think again. These changes are a good first step in reforming EU free movement so that it has the support of all the British people.

"There is undoubtedly concern about unlimited EU immigration in the UK, but there are also concerns in a number of other European countries as well. Clearly changes do need to be made to the way the principle of free movement is operated and we plan to talk to other EU countries and the Commission to see how this can be delivered on the ground. We have allies in our attempts to reform free movement and now we need to muster those allies to deliver common sense solutions to immigration concerns.

"We must never forget that over two million British people take advantage of their right to live and work elsewhere in the EU. Free movement is a cornerstone principle of the Single Market, and it can be good for business if handled correctly. However, we cannot ignore concerns about unlimited immigration. Labour refused to tackle these concerns;UKIP plays on them;but Conservatives in Westminster and Brussels want to find ways of addressing them and delivering a result that will restore confidence in the way EU free movement functions."

Syed Kamall, leader of Britain's Conservative MEPs said:"This initiative shows that Conservatives are working on a range of fronts to address people's real concerns over migration and benefits tourism. Other parties bury their heads in the sand or try to terrify the public. We are the ones taking sensible, practical, realistic steps to achieve better for Britain.

"I am delighted my team here has someone of Timothy's experience and insight to head up this important project."

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