The arguments over EU immigration are spreading far beyond the Conservative Party, for it is an issue which increasingly is preoccupying many EU member states, both the original 6 founder members, and the new entrants, but from very different perspectives.
The principle of freedom of movement for all EU citizens was agreed when the mere handful of member countries had a similarity of economic base and standard of living which made it viable and non-threatening; now, however, the majority of the present 28 members are comparatively poor, with low wages and few benefits, and so the lure of life in the more prosperous states will be irresistible to those citizens for whom life at home is hard. Unless EU law is changed, an influx of people seeking a better life is inevitable, leading to social pressure in the destination countries and a talent drain from the countries of departure which will worsen their economic prospects greatly.
Another factor could exacerbate the problem, which is mass migration. Refugees from areas of conflict like Syria or Africa are arriving in the EU in large numbers, desperate for help, and as the effects of climate change make certain places uninhabitable or infertile, there is likely to be further great movement of peoples to those countries which have food and prosperity. It has not happened very much yet, but it will. Similarly, if the Eurozone broke up, the resulting chaos and economic hardship could precipitate a wave of cross-border immigration never seen in the EU before.
And yet, despite the changing of the world and of the make-up of the EU, despite the concerns now voiced openly by Germany, France, the Netherlands, the UK and others, EU officials and certain liberal politicians refuse to concede that revision of the broad principle of freedom of movement is needed, now, before the next influx of immigrants begins on 1January.
It is extraordinary that they will not see that any key legislation applying to a very different looking European Union from its inception warrants regular scrutiny and revision to ensure it works as well as possible, for the sake of everyone. I write not from a position of protectionism from all foreigners but the desire for a pragmatic, realistic approach to the subject of immigration. Agreeing the accession of very poor countries without considering the impact of the big economic disparity was risky, and the EU now is reaping the seeds it has sown with its thoughtless generosity. To support the development of the more fragile members is commendable, but not indiscriminately and at the expense of the many, for in the end it will serve nobody.