Kirkhope: Free movement in the EU is a beneficial principle but serious debate about reform is needed

Jan 16, 2014


European Conservatives and Reformists Group Justice and Home Affairs spokesman Timothy Kirkhope MEP has today cooled for cooler heads to prevail in a European Parliament debate on freedom of movement across the EU. Mr Kirkhope said that the parliament should seek to have a ‘serious, moderate and sensible discussion’ about the future of freedom of movement in the EU, to ensure it continues to be a future success.

Speaking in the European Parliament today, Mr Kirkhope said:

“Today is an opportunity, an opportunity to start a serious, moderate and sensible discussion on the future of freedom of movement in the EU.

“Freedom of movement has brought economic growth, cultural diversity, and has helped Europe meet the modern challenges of labour demands and global markets.

“The UK has particularly benefited through modern history from this form of two-way immigration, through the commonwealth, to the thousands of brave and hardworking Polish citizens that helped rebuild my country after the war after fighting alongside us for freedom and democracy, for other European migration, and the 3 million British citizens who benefit every day from living working and retiring across the European Union.

“But like any system which is nearly 30 years old, there needs to be a moment when we need to adapt, to reform, and sometimes strengthen it in order to ensure its future success and survival.

“This should not translate into an attempt to destroy freedom of movement, and discriminate against individual member states.

“The hot tempers, the blame, the finger pointing, and political point scoring that is taking place, is not something which helps restore confidence, or find a way forward. That tone does a disservice to this Parliament and the people of Europe.

“I could fill my speech pointing blame at senior politicians from all countries, and all political groups but we need a more constructive level of debate.

“Such rhetoric plays into the hands of those individuals and media who want to call this Parliament and the EU irrational and out of touch.

“The people of Europe look for leadership. Reform and clarification, yes. But the tone of today’s discussion must remain moderate and sensible and positive. “