13 -19 October, 2013
ommission Vice-President VivianeReding, responsible for Justice, pro-posed Tuesday a five point actionplant on free movement followingreportsthat some Northern member state wantedto see this most cherished of the four funda-mental freedoms outlined in the Europeanfounding treaties limited.The plan comes just a few weeks beforethe final restrictions on citizens from Bul-garia and Romania are lifted and as Spiegelmagazine in Germany reported today thatBerlin wants tighter rules on “poverty im-migration.”“It is our common responsibility tostrongly uphold this right. The four free-doms anchored in the Treaty cannot bepicked and chosen,” Reding told EU JusticeMinisters.“You will always see me fighting forpreserving free movement, but I will also al- ways be on your side when it comes to usingexisting EU tools to effectively fight againstabuse,” she added.Reding has in the past warned that freemovement is in danger. Her plan foreseesthat:The Commission will work with mem- ber states to propose a handbook on mar-riages of convenience that will provide aclear framework for national authorities tooperate in so as to fight fraud and abuse.The concept of “habitual residence” will be clarified in order to assist authorities pre- vent so-called benefit tourismThe European Commission proposesthat money available from the European So-cial Fund (ESF) for member states to meetsocial inclusion challenges are increased to20 percent from around 15 percent.ESF Managing Autorities from memberstate will continue to meet to exchange bestpractices. .The Commission will invite mayorsin spring 2014 to discuss challenges andexchange best practices and develop anon-line tool to help staff in local authoritiesunderstand and apply free movement rightsof EU citizens, in cooperation with your ex-perts.“Free movement is the EU Treaty right which citizens value the most andsee as the most important achievement of EU integration. It goes to the heart of Un-ion citizenship,” Reding pointed out andadded that 67% of EU citizens think thatfree movement is an asset for their coun-try’s economy.The problem appears to have been blown out of proportion by vote-hungry politicians in any case. According to Redingat the end of last year, only 2,8 % EU citi-zens (14.1 million) were residing in anotherMember State. Annual cross-border mobil-ity rate in the EU is only 0,29%. In the USannual mobility rate of persons between the50 States is 2,4%.Mobility within the EU makes econom-ic sense. “As a result of post-enlargementmobility between 2004 and 2009, GDP of EU 15 is estimated to have increased by al-most 1%,” Reding said.“We have to ask ourselves why some 2million vacancies remain unfilled in the EUdespite the crisis. For me, it means that weneed a genuine European labour market,like in the USA,” the Commission Vice-President went on to say.“Free movement is a two-way streetfrom which all Member States benefit.This was one of the reasons why you unani-mously agreed to the successive EU enlarge-ments.”One day later, 9 October, speaking dur-ing a plenary debate in The European Parlia-ment on the situation of Roma people in theEuropean Union, the Commissioner notedthat “free movement is currently not actively enough used by EU citizens and this is notexpected to change after 2014.”Reding’s comment targeted, in particu-lar, MEPs who unsuccessfully tried to tieup the expected lifting of labour restrictionsagainst Bulgaria and Romania on 1 January 2014 with the idea that the labour marketsof their countries will be “flooded” by Romapeople after the removal of restrictions forBulgarian and Romanian workers.“I am actually ashamed to hear com-ments like these,” said Reding and addedshe was glad to hear that the vast majority of the MEPs took the opposite view.“Roma are human beings, they are Eu-ropean citizens who have the same rightsand obligations as other citizens,” continuedthe Commissioner for Justice while statingthat the situation of Roma people involves“all of us”.The debate in Strasbourg focused main-ly on the recent revelations that Swedishpolice have established a database of Roma,something which according to Anna MariaBildt Corazza MEP the government in Swe-den did know about and was not involvedin.“It’s a shame for Europe that a wholeminority is treated as a criminal group,” saidMikael Gustafsson MEP.For many countries like France whichrecently got to experience difficulties deal-ing with thousands of Roma who settled ontheir territory, Roma inclusion has became amassive economic and social burden. More-over, it has fuelled the use of hate speechamong French politicians in an attempt togain electoral support.“Rising right-wing extremism in Europeis an enormous common concern for theEU,” reiterated Reding during the followingplenary debate. She warned that it endan-gers, among others, the freedom of move-ment within European Union.
Reding: ‘no invasionexpected after 2014’
European Union Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding speaks during a debate on the situation of Roma people at the EuropeanParliament in Strasbourg on 9 October.
AFP PHOTO/FREDERICK FLORIN
Obamacare will bringthe Europeanisationof America
By Basil A. Coronakis
Healthcare is good, and Barack Obama wants to pass inhistory as the US president who made the “change weneed.” And it seems that, if he does not make it, he mightgo as extreme as to put the American nation in default. What intelligent thinking!Default, when American businesses flourish all over the world, at the end of the day will not bother the businesses which are spread all over the world. Yet it may lead to arenegotiation of the US government debt.Certainly Barack Obama, while insisting on taking therisks of retaining an extreme position, has in mind a fall- back position. This might well include the American gov-ernment debt to China. Why not? It is from Americansthat we have learned how to turn liabilities into assets.This will have unpredictable repercussions as China isan equal term superpower to the United States, and incase of a confrontation, it is much more disciplined thanany other.In this context, one should also consider Russia, the thirdequal term super power on the planet today. Further-more, since for sometime now, Russia is taking steps toturn the “cold peace” we live in since the collapse of the Wall, to cold war once again. Perhaps, as a measure to re-store the world equilibrium established after the second world war. With reference to Europe; sorry, it is not a superpower,although its has all necessary armaments, nuclear orotherwise. To be a superpower two things are required. Weapons than can destroy the entire world at least once,as more than once is irrelevant, and an undisputed leaderto hold the keys to the nuclear weapons and be ready topress the button (that means leader), eventually preven-tively (that means leader with guts).The United States, China and Russia have both the weap-ons and the undisputed leadership (with guts). Europe,has the weapons. The nuclear arsenal of France and thatof the United Kingdom together make Europe a first classsuperpower. Yet, who is the undisputed leader, with oreven without guts, of Europe that will push the button,and where is that button?However, the deficiencies and the challenges Europe isfacing is not the issue this time. The issue is America andthe Obamacare plan.In the last half century, Europe developed a strong and ef-ficient Medicare system while the United States did prac-tically nothing. The end result was that Europe, build-ing on the Medicare system launched an efficient socialsecurity system, introduced worker-friendly labour lawsand set huge state machines aiming not only at servingthe people but also in many cases accommodating unem-ployment thus giving the dimension of a “social state.”The first results of this Europe-wide practice we witnesstoday in Greece, Italy and France while in less that 15 years time, it is estimated that Sweden will no longer becapable of paying pensions.This will happen also in the United States if the Obamac-are plan succeeds. The question is, and it is deeply politi-cal, if the United States will continue to scarify the pre-sent for the future refusing Obamacare, or will take a stepforward to Europeanisation, which may bring it closer tothe end of its financial supremacy.The wise solution, however, seems to be the withdrawalof the Obama plan, maintaining the status quo for aslong as it can be maintained. As to Barack Obama , he will not pass into history, but at least he came very closeto doing so.