Labour shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has called for changes to EU law to reduce the freedom of workers to move countries in search of work:
On low-skill immigration we believe there was too much of it from the EU. There is one important thing about the EU. The founders of the EU had in mind free movement of workers, not free movement of job seekers.
This statement obviously leaves a lot hanging.
1. How does Chuka Umunna know that this is what the founders of the EU had in mind? Which founders? When did they say this? I have never seen any such statements, and I am fairly familiar with the motives of the people who created the EU. Nevertheless, there may be something I have missed.
2. What else did the founders of the EU have in mind? The Schuman declaration, for example, spoke of
the realization of the first concrete foundation of a European federation indispensable to the preservation of peace.
Does Chuka Umunna also think it is necessary to fulfil what the founders of the EU had in mind in this regard? If not, why does he think it appropriate to pick and choose between the sentiments of the founders of the EU?
3. Why does what the founders of the EU had in mind matter anyway? They did their job in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. The world is different now. The validity of what they thought lies not in the fact that they said it, but in the fact that it was relevant to the needs of the time. Its validity now depends on its relevance now.
The truth is that Chuka Umunna is aware that his policy idea is quite at variance with the idea of European integration and so has to dress it up differently. What he is proposing is that skilled workers with cross-border personal networks should be able to take jobs in other European countries, but that unskilled workers without those networks should not. In other words, Europe should offer its advantages to the middle classes but not the working class. This from a spokesman for the Labour party!