This week in Strasbourg there was Commission President Jean Claude-Juncker’s first State of the Union speech. He did as he said and made an intensely political speech. Most of the focus was on the current migration crisis or as Mr Juncker and his friends in Brussels call it, ‘the refugee crisis’.
I had warned back in April that I believed the implementation of the EU Common Asylum Policy had set the bounds so wide that virtually anyone who sets foot on European Union (EU) soil can stay. In order for this policy to work, the concept of burden-sharing between member states is vital. Juncker’s first pitch at this was in May this year with 40,000 migrants to be shared out.
This week the figure had increased to 160,000, still only a fraction of those who have come. I still believe that many member states will be deeply reluctant to join this scheme and that Juncker has a real crisis in holding these nation states together.
But the real surprise was a short paragraph on a Common EU Immigration policy. All the old arguments were used: Europe’s population was in decline and ageing and therefore immigration into Europe was vital. Indeed his predecessor, Manuel Barroso, once suggested that the EU may need as many 50 million migrants.
But the real shock of the announcement is that Juncker said detailed proposals would be presented in the spring. He also talked about the British renegotiation, joking that Cameron was a British European to which I did added: “you bet he is!”
Juncker made it clear that some form of deregulation package would be prepared. But equally he said that the free movement of workers would not be touched.
All of this is a nightmare for Cameron. A Common EU Immigration policy that gives people a green card is not designed to be a work permit scheme. It is designed for people to settle and very soon to become naturalised EU citizens.
This is important for Mr Juncker and his friends because as the European Union loses popularity with its electorates, what better way to prop up EU support than vast numbers of first generation pro-EU migrants.
It is all reminiscent of what Blair did in Britain and exposed why Labour are so strong in London.
Mr. Cameron’s problem is that whilst he will no doubt say we are opting out of the common immigration policy, once migrants become naturalised they will have the automatic right to come to Britain. And this proposal once presented next spring is likely to dominate the EU debate next year.
For a Prime Minister who wants to convince the electorate that removing a few social benefits from migrants is enough to convince the British to remain members of the borderless EU, this could not have come at a worse time.
Indeed I now think, though I’m by no means certain, that there is now a much greater likelihood of this referendum being announced in Cameron’s conference speech with the referendum being held in March.
Whether this hunch is right or not, I’m pleased that my own Say No to EU tour launched this week in Margate. With nearly 1,500 people attending it was a heartening start to the campaign and I’m going to make sure that even more dates than previously planned will be going in my diary. We haven’t a moment to lose.
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Aside from governing our own country and controlling our borders, our private polling shows that the third most important issue for British voters is the sheer cost of the thing. We pay £55 million per day to be a member of a club whose accounts have not had a clean bill of help from the auditors for 19 years.
But a few further hammer blows this week. First, that the cost of dispersing Mr. Juncker’s 160,000 migrants will fall on the UK even though we are opted out of the EU’s Common Asylum policy. Some estimates put this cost at a huge £90 million.
In addition, as reported by Breitbart London, after all the grand gestures of Mr Cameron saying he wouldn’t hand the EU another £1.7 billion, it looks like he’s capitulated yet again and handed over even more British taxpayers’ cash to Brussels.
Much of what has emanated from the EU this week could only be described as a gift.
Nigel Farage is the leader of the UK Independence Party