Freedom of Movement Restricted

The intransigence of the European Union with respect to freedom of movement of people now lies exposed as morally and ethically hollow in the light of its conduct with India. The same insistent EU refuses to actively apply similar rules of the game of free movement of people in the global arena, which raises the question of solidarity and principled conduct.

Britain has voted to leave the European Union (EU), or what is known in common parlance as Brexit, in a widely attended referendum. The turnout was higher than the national elections—roughly 72% and the verdict, a rather decisive one with 51% in favour of Brexit. The results sent tremors through the United Kingdom (UK), the EU, and the entire world. At the heart of this referendum campaign and the concomitant disenchantment of the British leave voters was the issue of unfettered immigration.

Let us ponder on what exactly the issue of immigration is and what lies behind it. The UK, like most Western countries, has a restricted and selective process of accepting migrants. However, in the case of the EU, it has to accept every EU citizen who is willing to work and live, and grant the permission to do so. The EU extended its frontiers and expanded its borders through a process called “accession” between 2004, till about 2007, and 12 new member states joined the EU. The citizens of these new member states were granted free, unrestricted access to the UK labour market since the UK is a member of the EU.

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