European Council President Donald Tusk congratulated Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on his election victory and said he counted on him to play a constructive role in maintaining the bloc’s unity.
Mr Orban was also congratulated by the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the biggest bloc in the European Parliament. Fidesz is a member of that group, despite the clashes of opinions. However, the Eurosceptics in the European Parliament pointed out it would be increasingly difficult for the EU to pursue open doors migration policy and relocation, after Orban’s sweeping victory.
New data from YouGov’s regular Eurotrack survey highlights how people in Britain and key EU nations have conflicting priorities for the Brexit negotiations.
Asked to choose up to three priorities for Brexit from a list of eight, Britons’ number one priority is “allowing Britain to control immigration from the EU” (41%). In second place is ensuring continued co-operation with the EU on counter-terrorism (38%), while in joint third are two trade concerns: ensuring tariff-free trade with the EU and allowing Britain to make its own trade deals with countries outside the EU (both 36%).
By contrast, the number one concern of the public in both France and Germany is ensuring that the UK pays what it owes upon leaving the EU (at 40% and 45% respectively). Counter-terrorism is the second most-pressing priority for both (39% in France, 41% in Germany), while ensuring that the UK does not get the rights of EU membership without being a member came third (on 39% and 37% respectively.
New research carried out by leading immigration expert professor Jonathan Portes shows it may be feasible for the UK to remain in the single market – temporarily or permanently – while changing the way free movement of people operates to provide greater control.
The research by professor Portes at King’s College London and senior fellow at The UK in a Changing Europe, finds a new system could be designed that preserves the principle that European Economic Area (EEA) citizens could move to the UK to look for, and take up, work while giving the UK public greater assurance that migration from the rest of the EEA was monitored and, where appropriate, controlled.
The introduction of a “Swiss-style” system of temporary and targeted regional and/or occupation specific controls might be feasible. This would not be an “emergency brake”, as originally proposed by David Cameron and more recently by Nick Clegg. It would enable a targeted, temporary and proportionate response to migration pressures.
There would however be significant challenges: the EU would have to accept some “bespoke” modifications to the legal framework to accommodate the UK. And the UK would have to implement major administrative changes.
There would be inevitable trade-offs between increased burdens on business and individuals and the degree of extra “control” afforded by such a system.
“The British government could negotiate an arrangement whereby it can modify the operation of free movement of persons in ways that might allow it to remain in the single market. The Government has not yet asked, so it cannot yet know what the outcome of such a negotiation might be” – professor Jonathan Portes said.
“The negotiability of such changes would depend on the political context and on political will both in the UK and in the EU27. But it should not be concluded ex ante that they are impossible.”
Mr Tusk, who represents the other EU 27 nations, said the EU would “analyse line by line” the UK’s proposals when they were published in full but his “first impression is that the UK’s offer is below our expectations and that it risks worsening the situation of citizens”.
And Joseph Muscat, the prime minister of Malta – who currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU – warned of people being “treated differently” depending on date they arrived in the UK.
Supposedly the UK has put forward a different approach towards the EU expats, who settled in the country in different waves of the block’s enlargement. The biggest community of the EU citizens in the UK is Polish, which has grown rapidly after the country was granted a EU member status in 2004. There are an estimated 831,000 Polish-born residents in 2015 – a jump of almost three-quarters of a million compared to the number in 2004 – the year the country joined the EU.
The immigration control is prioritized by the UK citizens over the free trade with the European Union, showed the results of poll published this week, reflecting the vision of future of the majority of Britons ahead of the entering into ‘divorce’ negotiations.
The launch of the negotiations has been postponed since the last year referendum, indicating the complexity of the task, related to the level of integration of the UK into the block, which will not allow an easy stepping out.
However many experts point at the shifting date of evoking Article 50 as a favorable factor for the UK, awaiting the results of elections in the leading EU member states this year, namely in the Netherlands in March, France in May, Germany in autumn, early elections are highly probable in Italy after MP Matteo Renzi stepping down.
The accession of Eurosceptics to power in the key EU member-states will create opportunities for the UK to diminish the losses and preserve at maximum the advantages of mutually beneficial trade relations with the block. The immigration policy, namely the ‘free movement of people’ remains the major stumble block between two parties.
The end of March is declared as the next self-imposed deadline of the UK government to open two years process of negotiations to obtain a new framework of co-operation with the EU27. The ORB International issued the poll results, indicating 46% of the participants consider immigration control prior to the access to free trade, supported by 39%.
ORB conducted its monthly Brexit tracker among an online among 2075 UK adults aged +18 during fieldwork on 6-8 January claiming 95% of confidence.
(Source: ORB International)