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Schadenfreude: Cameron’s ’emergency brake’ is a phantasy

Euro-sceptic Conservatives in Britain need a powerful imagination, writes Schadenfreude, our secret columnist in Brussels.

Their deepest wish is to cut immigration from the rest of the European Union.

They say it can be done and point to Croatia, which is under restriction. It is, as Romania and Bulgaria once were – for a fixed period, as part of the terms of their accession to the EU. Any new members would predictably be subject to the same condition.

The other pseudo-discovery is an “emergency brake”. Allegedly this could be used to cut immigration of workers from the other Member states.

It is a phantasy.

The Treaty of Lisbon allows immigration restriction on grounds of “public policy, health and security”. Health and Security are not at issue, so it comes down to “public policy”. Public policy is not a blank cheque, to be used whenever no other reason is to hand. If you say “Our policy is to do so and so”, the declaration does not give you exemption from the agreement you signed up to:  free movement of workers.

There is no “emergency brake” on the migration of workers within the EU. If you want a restriction, you will have to negotiate an exemption from the Treaty. If you want other changes, you will have to itemise them at the same time, not come back next week.

If you “won’t take No for an answer”, what do you do about it ? Have a referendum and recommend Out.

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