"Freedom of movement in the EU, a fundamental principle we have to protect", say S&Ds
The European Parliament today in Strasbourg adopted a resolution strongly rejecting recent populist demands to restrict freedom of movement within the EU – including British PM David Cameron's proposal before the latest EU Council.
In particular, the Euro MPs voted to "reject entirely any proposal to cap the number of EU migrants" as these would restrict EU citizens' fundamental rights. In addition, any obstacle to workers' mobility would damage the EU's economic interests and competitiveness.
Following the vote, S&D vice-president Sylvie Guillaume MEP, one of the initiators of the European Parliament resolution, said:
"The claim that EU citizens would allegedly travel around Europe just to exploit different countries' welfare benefits is totally groundless and politically motivated. Only 2.8% of all EU citizens live in a member state other than their own.
"Moreover, access to social assistance for EU citizens in other member states is not an unrestricted right.
"The rhetoric against so-called 'welfare tourism' is purely intended to increase nationalism and protectionism. It is no coincidence that they are voiced just ahead of elections.
"Those in Europe attempting to undermine the principle of free movement have completely failed to produce any credible evidence on benefits abuses and the massive population flows they predicted did not happen.
"In complete opposition to their claims, there are strong political and economic arguments to encourage, not restrict, free movement.
"Leaving aside the polemics, our efforts need more to be focused on fighting poverty-driven migration in all EU countries, by implementing equal-opportunities policies, encouraging employers to provide a living wage and decent working conditions, building paths for integration in employment and making economic growth more socially inclusive."