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FACTDROP: Cameron vows to bar Greek influx
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7/04/2012

Cameron vows to bar Greek influx


Πηγή: FT
By Jim Pickard
July 3 2012

Britain would be prepared to close its borders to immigrants from Greece if that country was ejected from the eurozone, David Cameron has said.

The prime minister revealed that the government was “prepared to do what it takes” to prevent a large influx of Greeks coming to Britain to escape the financial downturn in their own country.

Mr Cameron made clear that such restrictions would only be imposed in the event of “extraordinary stresses” on the system. But his comments came as a surprise because EU nationals are usually entitled to work anywhere in the single market without restrictions.

“We obviously have contingency plans for all sorts of eventualities . . . the legal position is that if there are extraordinary stresses and strains, it is possible to take action to restrict migratory flows,” he said in evidence to the liaison committee of MPs. “Obviously we hope that doesn’t happen . . . I would be prepared to do what it takes.”

Such fears centre on the prospect of a further spike in Greek unemployment which could force large numbers of people to seek work elsewhere in the EU.

In May, the Home Office admitted it was planning for the potential for a large increase in immigration from not only Greece but also other EU nations because of the eurozone crisis.

Theresa May, home secretary, said at the time that work was ongoing to tackle large movements of people if the eurozone broke up in the coming months or years.

Officials are already studying data to see whether immigration from beleaguered European countries has increased, according to Ms May, although she admitted that there was not yet any evidence of increased migration.

Speaking to the liaison committee, Mr Cameron said closer political and fiscal union between eurozone nations would be a positive outcome for the British economy if it helped to damp down the eurozone crisis. Yet those countries would have to make some “very difficult decisions about giving up sovereignty . . . and areas of their democracy”.

He repeated his line that it was too early to seek a referendum on Britain’s relationship with Europe given that the EU was set for rapid change in the coming months. Stating that “big change” was happening on the continent, he said it was essential for the UK to show “tactical and strategic patience” until the current crisis had fully played out.

Tacitly admitting that the tightening eurozone bloc of 17 single currency nations could threaten Britain’s interests, he added: “The key thing here is obviously making your case with vigour and defending your interests, but it’s also about building alliances.”

Mr Cameron raised the hopes of his own eurosceptic backbenchers at the weekend by indicating that he was not opposed to a referendum on the terms of Britain’s membership of the EU, although he said he was opposed to a simple “in-out” vote.

On Tuesday, he argued that a new EU treaty could be agreed without a referendum in the UK, so long as it did not pass powers from Westminster to Brussels.

He also refused to say when the government’s proposed “audit” of the UK’s relationship with the EU would go ahead. Although he hoped it would begin before the summer, it was necessary to achieve Lib Dem agreement before its launch, he emphasised.



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