Umunna – Barnier’s speech is an olive branch on free movement and Single Market membership

Immigration rules must be more rigorously enforced across the EU to prevent abuses of the free movement of people, European Commission Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said.

In a speech today, Mr Barnier said welfare tourism must be fought, and this was compatible with membership of the Single Market.

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:

“The Prime Minister decided in January to pull Britain out of the Single Market before negotiations even began – a decision which, if implemented, will damage our trade with Europe and lead to lower growth, fewer jobs and higher prices.

“Michel Barnier’s comments show that there is appetite in Europe for reforms that would end some of the controversy over the free movement of people which are compatible with membership of the Single Market.

“This is an olive branch which the UK Government should seize with both hands. They need to think again, negotiate to keep Britain in the Single Market, and explore reforms to our immigration system.”

/ends

Notes to editors:

The full text of Michel Barnier’s speech is here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-17-1236_en.htm

Open Britain and Policy Network have already set out how the Government could keep Britain in the Single Market and reform free movement:https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/in/pages/11621/attachments/original/1488878049/PN_Open_Britain_v3.pdf?1488878049

Michel Barnier said:

“People are concerned about the free movement of EU workers, not only in the UK, but also in many other Member States.

“This is certainly the case, I can tell you as a French citizen, in my home country. 

“And people often have good reason to be concerned.

“But the solution lies in a fairer labour market, and in better training for people.

“We must also apply EU and national rules in a more rigorous manner so as to prevent them from abuse.

“The solution is not to restrict the free movement of fellow EU citizens.

“Stopping free movement will not improve social protection.

“This debate goes far beyond Brexit. 

“However, it is important to draw a number of lessons from Brexit if we are to encourage a more informed public debate across the Member States.”