Over the past few years, immigration to the UK has risen sharply. Many unskilled laborers from EU member states are migrating to the UK in search of employment.
The UK’s extensive benefits system, which includes welfare payments and national insurance accommodations, is also a big draw for migrant workers.
Many native British citizens are worried about how the massive influx of migrants will effect the amount of jobs available to locals.
The increased financial burdens of accommodating these migrants prompted British Prime Minister David Cameron to restrict welfare benefits to immigrants earlier this summer.
It has also led Cameron to consider restricting migration to the UK. The only problem: one of the European Union’s founding principals protects the free movement of people within the 28 member states.
“The mass migration that you have seen with new countries joining, the impact on other populations including in the UK, the free movement in order to claim benefits, these are areas that have evolved and we think they need to be addressed,”
said a spokesman from the Prime Minister’s office. PM David Cameron is scheduled in December to release a proposal on how to deal with immigration.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been vocal in expressing her opposition to Cameron’s plans to reform the freedom of movement provision.
Normally, the UK has always looked to Germany (the EU’s largest economy) as its closest ally in the European Union, but when it comes to immigration, Germany seems to be showing little room for compromise.
From the BBC:
“In particular the Germans are alarmed by the suggestion of “caps” or “quotas” or “emergency brakes” on the numbers of EU migrants arriving in Britain. They believe that would undermine freedom of movement, a core EU principle.”
Merkel has gone on the record saying she would rather see the UK leave the EU than jeopardize the freedom of movement principle.
The German publication Der Spiegel, quoting sources from the Angela Merkel’s office, recently ran an article about the Chancellor’s disapproval of Cameron’s immigration reform plans:
“Should Cameron persist (in this plan), Chancellor Angela Merkel would abandon her efforts to keep Britain in the EU. With that a point of no return would be reached. That would be it then,”
the source is quoted as saying.
Britain’s attempts to limit immigration have strained relations between Germany and Britain, and more questions are arising as whether or not the UK will even stay in the EU.
UKIP, a political group in Britain that is against EU-membership, has recently gained a larger base of political support.
In 2017, Britain will host a national referendum, allowing citizens to vote on whether or not the nation will remain a member of the EU.