Tony Blair claims the EU is ready to compromise on freedom of movement

STEFAN ROUSSEAU / POOL UK AND IRELAND OUT

Former British prime minister Tony Blair speaks during a press conference in response to the Chilcot Iraqi Inquiry, at the Admiralty House, London, Britain, 06 July 2016.

Tony Blair claims the EU is ready to compromise on freedom of movement


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The UK can avoid a “hard Brexit” and EU leaders are ready to compromise on freedom of movement to avoid Brexit, Tony Blair wrote in an article published by the

The UK can avoid a “hard Brexit” and EU leaders are ready to compromise on freedom of movement to avoid Brexit, Tony Blair wrote in an article published by the Institute for Global Change.

I am told…

In making this claim, the former Prime Minister cites undisclosed EU sources, without specifying whether he refers to Brussels or specific capitals. However, he says explicitly that some of the concerns of British public opinion on welfare benefits are shared in France and Germany.

Blair also notes that the push for institutional reforms by Emmanuel Macron means that the EU is moving towards a multi-speed Europe, where the UK could find a place in the “outer circles.”

“… One option within this negotiation would be Britain staying within a reformed European Union,” Blair writes.

In the countdown to the referendum, the former Prime Minister David Cameron was granted special rights to curb EU immigration when the UK can demonstrate a crisis in social service provisions. But, the deal was never implemented.

No one compromises on Freedom of Movement

Tony Blair’s arguments are raising eyebrows in London and in Brussels.

On the one hand Labour’s shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, said that although Labour could “negotiate access to the single market,” but the result of the referendum should be respected, the BBC reports. And Jeremy Corbyn says that Labour is willing “to protect EU nationals’ rights to remain (…), including the rights of family reunion,” but without objecting to the basic premise of ending freedom of movement.

On the other hand, EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has repeatedly made the point that the three freedoms (capital, people, goods) are “indivisible” dimensions of the Single Market. Numerous German officials have warned against the notion of “cherry picking” dimensions of the Single Market.

Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to control EU migration to the tens of thousands, which includes the reduction of students. That will require exiting the Single Market.

Towards a Compromise on current residents

Meanwhile, the Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde told Sverige Radio on Sunday that following talks with Brexit minister David Davis she is optimistic about a deal over citizens’ rights.

Currently, the European Commission is offering UK citizens the same rights they enjoy now. But, the EU is not extending full rights, including family reunification and healthcare when they retire. Anna Linde expressed confidence that there is scope to bridge the difference on this issue.

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