The fact that the UK is going to restrict rights of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens to enter the UK has been dripping out through leaks and statements for a couple of months now. I first blogged about it on 31st August, with a follow-up on 26th September.
But today John Reid, our beloved [sic] Home Secretary, has announced for certain that restrictions will be imposed. See the news story from The Guardian here. I must admit that I am perplexed by what has been announced. There are tough restrictions on the numbers of unskilled workers that are allowed to enter the UK, but movement of so-called A2 workers – the self-employed – remains unrestricted. Plus there is a whole new monitoring body to keep an eye on what’s going on.
This strikes me as akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut – why do we need all of these procedures? After all, it’s not as if we are going to have any new countries joining the EU any time soon after Romania and Bulgaria. Plus, by the time everyone has worked out who is allowed to work when and where, I suspect that plenty of people will have already moved to work in the UK in any case.
Clearly the government is confused and divided on this. My advice would be to work with other Member States to allow complete opening of all labour markets as soon as possible, thereby avoiding the (perceived) excessive pressure on the UK.