Angela Merkel signals room for manoeuvre on freedom of movement

Angela Merkel signalled for the first time since the referendum that there could be room for manoeuvre on freedom of movement. The European Commision along with other EU leaders (including the German Chancellor) have consistently maintained that there cannot be full access to the single market without freedom of movement of people. The EU comprises four freedoms: of movement of goods, capital, services and people. It’s the freedom of movement of people that has been the most contentious.

In a talk on Tuesday, Angela Merkel maintained that an exception for Britain could not be made on this for access to the single market. However, she added that further discussion was needed with the European Commission about the detail of the framework.

Were we to make an exception for the free movement of people with Britain, this would mean we would endanger principles of the whole internal market in the European Union, because everyone else will then want these exceptions,”

I personally am of the view that we will have to discuss further with the [European] Commission when this freedom of movement applies from.”

Angela Merkel

Changes to lifelong welfare provision a possibility

She expanded saying that there is a question about whether a person who moves to another EU country and works for a short time should acquire a lifelong claim to welfare benefits.

The question of when lifelong guarantees come into effect according to the social standard of the host country must certainly be taken into consideration,”

Free movement applies to me in the sense that the employee himself earns the money he needs for himself and his family in the other member state,”

Angela Merkel

This is certainly a positive sign. This may not, however, appease Theresa May who has already stated that immigration control was her ‘red line’. But as the German Chancellor also says, before negotiations on this can begin, “Britain must explain in what manner it would like this exit.”

Image: Angela Merkel
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