Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday 8 February 2006

The EU - schlerosis or dynamism - you decide

I'm one of those right-of-centre people who is fervently pro-EU, even if I wasn't over the moon about the constitution as it was written. So I am very pleased that the European Commission has recognised that it is the three countries (the UK, Ireland and Sweden) that chose not to restrict labour movement from the 8 new EU members from eastern Europe immediately they joined the EU almost two years ago who have perfomed as 'good Europeans' - and it has not harmed our unemployment levels in any way, rather the presence of valuable additional labour from the 'new' countries has helped our economy (and the improved availability of people able and willing to do the practical things that need to be done).

It is disappointing that both Germany and Austria say they are going to extend the restrictions. On the other hand, Spain and Finland say they are going to lift them from 1st May this year and a number of other countries (Belgium, France and the Netherlands) are said to be looking at some lessening, too. The whole point of having the EEC and then the EU was to have unrestricted movement of labour, goods and services throughout ALL of the member countries - countries which have the right attitude have nothing to fear from openness, but those which have restrictive policies tend to have less vibrant economies. I had hoped that under their new Chancellor the Germans, at least, could start to get back their reputation for being a growing economy so I am am rather disappointed that they seem determined to keep their onerous restrictions in place for as long as possible.

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