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Hindsight is 20-20 but yes, Blair could have called for a delay of free movement after the Eastern EU expansion like other EU countries did.
But that would have missed the point. I thing there was a Grand Bargain that was implicit when the central European countries joined the EU : I was appalled at the time that so little direct economic aid was offered to them, but free movement of workers was an obvious compensation. For Blair, it was an economic boost, a gift to the new entrants in the form of remittances, and a means of keeping wages low in the UK. It worked marvellously well on that front. For higher-wage countries like France, central europeans would find it hard to get work, so we got the Bolkestein directive, which achieved the same thing through the back door : "detached" workers working for letterbox companies that defraud social security etc and don't comply with local labour regulations, and pay effectively a small fraction of the local hourly minimum wage to their indentured workers. I've always been puzzled why this situation is tolerated; it can only be some sort of implicit quid-quo-pro deal.
I've got a feeling that this may blow up big time, as central European countries get assertive on other issues.
It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue
- Queen Elizabeth II
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