László Andor, the European Commissioner for employment, social affairs and inclusion, noted that
“The truth, and it might be inconvenient for some, is that the vast majority of people who move from one EU country to another do so in order to work. They don’t do it in order to claim benefits”.
Should the UK leave the EU, the lives of approximately six million people across the continent would be destabilised and put at risk, as would the businesses that employ them and benefit from their knowledge and skills. The possibility of huge population transfers across the Channel at levels unheard of in Europe since the end of World War II is simply unimaginable in the 21st Century. So is the prospect of an additional two million UK citizens actively looking for jobs that would in no way correspond to those given up by departing non-UK citizens. Such is the human, economic, and social nightmare that would befall us if the “Leave” option would win the upcoming BREXIT Referendum.
Again, the facts speak for themselves and confirm the comments of Commissioner Andor:
- the National Online Manpower Information System, a service provided by the Office for National Statistics – based on passport records, shows that 1.8m Britons live in Europe, with more than one million in Spain, compared with an estimate of 2.34 m EU citizens living in the UK. Given that these figures are based on 2010 estimates and that they underestimate actual numbers of Britons abroad who have no duty to register with UK embassies abroad, it means that the number of Europeans choosing to live in the UK is roughly equivalent to the number of Britons who settled in the other 27 EU Member States;
- of these, 400,000 are claiming a state pension from the UK;
- at least 30,000 British nationals are claiming unemployment benefit in countries around the EU;
- more than four times as many Britons obtain unemployment benefits in Germany as Germans do in the UK, and the are five times as many Britons receiving unemployment benefits in Ireland than Irish in the UK;
- 23,000 Britons receive unemployment benefits in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, France and Ireland, whereas 8,720 nationals of those nine countries do so in the UK;
- 5% of Britons in other EU countries are claiming unemployment benefits – the same level as the roughly 65,000 EU nationals claiming jobseeker’s allowances in the UK. Dr Roxana Barbulescu, researcher on international migration at the University of Sheffield, concluded from this data that “Thirty thousand people, or 2.5% of all British nationals, in other EU member states means that the overwhelming majority of Brits abroad as well as European citizens in Britain are not an undue burden for the countries in which they live”;
- as Lord Oakeshott, a senior Liberal Democrat remarked, freedom of movement was a “genuine two-way street”: “As many Britons work or retire across the Channel or the Irish Sea as other Europeans come here”.