UK’s immigration stance worrying, says French MEP

The UK’s hardline stance on immigration is “worrying”, former French Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau, who is now an MEP, has told Connexion.

26 February 2020
By Oliver Rowland

She spoke as the UK published new details of the “points-based system” it intends to bring in when the Brexit transition period ends – currently expected to be from next January.

It stated among other points (tinyurl.com/yx6hrngk) that it would not accept “low-skilled” Europeans and any students wishing to come to study would need to speak English.

Those wanting to work would need job offers paying either an average salary for their sector or at least €31,000, whichever is higher, the UK said.

Asked about her views on the possibility of “associate EU citizenship” for Britons (see above), Mrs Loiseau said: “We are going to concentrate at the same time on the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) being put into place well, and on the negotiation of the future relationship, and avoid getting sidetracked in this intense and no doubt difficult period.

“The fate of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in France was at the heart of the WA. I will be vigilant to this agreement being fully put in place in the best possible conditions, whether in the UK or in the EU.

“For the future, the European Parliament has recalled that the four freedoms were indissociable.

“The first elements coming out of London on the future immigration system are worrying.”

She said they were “aware of the negative consequences of a decision – Brexit – that we never wanted and we regret”.

However, “there is a principle of reality that has to prevail.

“The UK is becoming a third country and there are treaties that regulate the EU” [ie. there are rules concerning rights of third country citizens].

Mrs Loiseau said any Britons living in France who wish to do so should be “encouraged to seek the nationality of their country of residence”.

The “future relationship” talks are set to start but are already dogged by clashing statements on each side.

British ministers say they will not accept any alignment with EU rules.

EU chiefs say a “level playing field” on various rules – such as the environment, worker rights, state aid – is essential.

The EU wants a close trading relationship without quotas or tariffs, going further than any free trade agreement with other nations, due to Britain’s close proximity and the highly developed links that already exist between the UK and the EU. 

A deal exactly like the EU’s with Canada, which has some quotas and tariffs, for example, is not workable, the EU says.

Moreover, it took seven years to negotiate and the UK wishes to conclude its deal this year.

In effect, the talks timeframe is about eight months, as time will be needed at the end to ratify what is agreed.

Both sides are now finalising their negotiation objectives.

However, preliminary papers from the EU noted the UK’s wish to end free movement and said it would apply rules of reciprocity.

They also stated a wish to make agreements on social security coordination, again stressing reciprocity.

This could include matters such as ways of compensating for the loss of the S1 and Ehic health form schemes for state pensioner expatriates or travellers, expatriates’ state pension uprating, pension aggregation between the UK and EU, and exportability of disability benefits for future newcomers.

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