Open letter to David Cameron

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The UK prime minister is amplifying nationalist speculation that the country's labour market is going to be under threat after labour restrictions for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens are lifted on 1 January, writes Ivailo Kafin MEP.

Ivailo Kalfin is a member of the European Parliament affiliated to the S&D group. He is the former foreign minister and vice-prime minister of Bulgaria, who steered the country into EU accession in 2007.

Prime Minister,

Your position on restricting migration makes sense. It makes sense to all those that want to see an Europe back into the national trenches. All those that deny the benefits and the prosperity that Europe brought to her citizens over the last more than fifty years. All those that adopt the language of the national greatness and suspicion towards the European neighbours that prevailed at the beginning of the last century.

I believe that today, in the 21st century, when the world goes global and the competitiveness and welfare are much more important to the European citizens, they understand that building walls around the national borders in Europe and marginalising the nation states is detrimental. They certainly do not want to repeat the European mistakes of the last century but rather to step and build on the basis of the lessons learned.  

Speaking about the one million citizens from Central and Eastern Europe living in the UK, you should also remember about the nearly two millions of British citizens that live elsewhere in Europe. Worrying about the "threat" to the national labour market, you should probably consult the British industries and entrepreneurs asking them for the value these workers are creating for the UK economy. The fact is that the UK largely benefits and has always benefited from immigrant workers.

Amplifying the speculations of the nationalists that the British labour market is going to be under threat after restrictions for the Bulgarian citizens fall is building on a nonsense. Today all EU citizens can travel and enter the UK territory. Lifting the labour market restrictions is addressed to those that are willing to come and work legally in the UK. What exactly is the threat?

Please, Prime Minister, look at the facts. Use all the reports and analyses made by British or European institutions. Look at the numbers of, for instance Bulgarians that are working, contributing to the economy and paying their taxes in your country or those that are paying for their education there. Then you will probably realise that the percentage of Bulgarian citizens that are benefiting from the UK social systems without contributing to them is negligible. I am sure that you can base your conclusions on the facts. I also expect that you make these facts public.

As a Chevening scholar and as a Master and Honorary Doctor of Loughborough University, I had the privilege to know and to benefit from the UK excellence in education, and with all my respect to your great country, I would like to ask you not to follow the nationalists but to demonstrate the leadership that the UK and Europe deserve. I am absolutely convinced that when taking your decisions for the United Kingdom, you will demonstrate the vision and the political strength that the citizens expect from you.

Yours sincerely,

Ivailo Kalfin

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