The European Commission says Britain’s immigration laws violate EU law and has said that unless Britain changes them within two months, the European Union will sue. Legal experts say it is impossible for the government to meet this deadline.
The Commission’s “reasoned opinion” states that the UK is violating the EU’s Free Movement Directive in four areas. Initially, the EU said Britain breached the directive in 80 ways, but most of those have been resolved.
Two of the areas left relate to family members of EU citizens. The directive requires that a non-EU family member be allowed to travel visa-free with his relative who holds an EU residence card. Britain does not allow this as it says that not all resident cards from EU nations are secure enough.
The other issue relates to the Commission wanting Britain to allow family members of EU citizens to be able to apply for UK residency. As the Financial Times explains it, “This would entitle, for instance, an Afghan national in London to apply for residence in Britain on the basis of their Italian brother living in Rome.”
The directive allows the UK to require EU citizens who want to move to Britain to have medical insurance. However, Britain won’t let them count the UK’s National Health Service as insurance. The Commission claims this is illegal.
Its final grievance is that the UK treats immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria differently to immigrants from other EU nations.
Britain said it would appeal against the Commission’s opinion.
Immigration policy and control of national borders are at the heart of a nation’s sovereignty. The fact that the EU is able to boss Britain around on this, with Britain’s only response being to appeal, shows how much power Britain has given up to Europe. ▪