The free movement of people is a cornerstone principle of the European Union. Why change it? But that’s exactly what the British government has announced today that it wants to do.
EU membership works both ways. Other EU citizens can come here; we can go there. Britain has benefited greatly from other EU citizens coming to Britain to fill jobs or to open or grow businesses here; just as the rest of Europe has benefited from our citizens travelling across Europe to work and to invest in businesses there.
There are about the same number of Britons living in the rest of the EU as citizens from the rest of the EU living in Briton. So if all those Britons came home, and all those EU citizens here went home, Britain’s population would be about the same as it is now.
Where are the statistics to prove there’s a serious problem with benefit tourism? I cannot find any. The UK government’s attack on the EU’s free movement of people seems to be baseless rhetoric. There appears to be no problem that requires solving. Or as the BBC reported, ‘..what’s clear is that the evidence points strongly in the direction that people migrate to find work or for family reasons. They are less likely to up sticks to cross borders – or even continents – just for a weekly giro.’
The evidence is that EU immigrants from Central Europe are around 60% less likely than British natives to receive state benefits, or tax credits, or to live in social housing. Furthermore, those EU immigrants pay almost 40% more in direct or indirect taxes than they receive in public goods and services. Almost 94 per cent of the working-age EU immigrant population are not claiming working-age benefits. They contributed about a third more in taxes than they received in benefits.
According to research by University College London, immigrants to the UK from other parts of Europe in the last decade made a net fiscal contribution to the UK of about £22 billion. Most immigrants here from the rest of Europe are in gainful employment and make a substantial net contribution to our economy.
If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
(Graphics by ‘British Influence’ and combined into one by Jon Danzig)
‘The number of European migrants in the UK is almost exactly balanced by the number of Britons living elsewhere in the EU, according to official figures.’ - Financial Times
— Jon Danzig (@Jon_Danzig) December 5, 2013
— Jon Danzig (@Jon_Danzig) October 20, 2014
- New Europeans - Promoting the value of EU citizenship in the UK
- British Influence - Campaigning for British leadership in Europe
Other articles by Jon Danzig:
- Letter from Europe: Why I’m a Union man
- The value of being ‘citizens of Europe’
- What Nigel Farage told British expats in Spain