The four ‘freedoms’ of the EU

Image: David Masson

Regarding the supposedly sacrosant four freedoms of the EU single market, if the free movement of people (FMP) (AKA the unrestricted mobility of cheap labour) is considered essential, then that market’s in serious need of reform.

As seen in Lode Desmet‘s brilliant fly-on-the-wall documentary, Brexit: Behind Closed Doors (shown in the UK on BBC Four’s Storyville in May 2019), liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt, Brexit coordinator for the European Parliament, federalist and, apparently, self-appointed High Priest of the Four Freedoms, pompously and melodramatically – if unconvincingly – lectured a 2018 UK parliamentary committee on the supposed sanctity of FMP.

Verhofstadt (who, unlike fellow EU Brexit panjandrums Tusk, Juncker and Barnier, was at least elected) duly preached the 4F credo to the committee:

‘You cannot pick and choose one element out of this concept and say, “We like everything, services, goods, capital, but not people. We don’t like people. They cannot come. Our goods can go out, our capital can go out, services can go out, but not people” . That is not the single market. Everybody on the continent understands that when you’re talking about the single market, it can not only be the freedom of movement of goods or services or capital, but that it also needs to be the freedom of movement of people. Because there are some countries in the single market who are specialised in goods. So they have an advantage on the single market with their goods. Some countries are specialised in services. I think we are here in the centre, in the capital of a country that is specialised, that has a huge advantage in services. Like other countries have an advange in that single market, because of their work force. And if you want to take out one of these elements, you destroy the concept itself of the single market.’

(Transcript kindly provided to me by Lode Desmet)

So, how noble are the mighty four freedoms! We rich west Europeans can export our goods, services and capital. Poor east Europeans can export their cheap labour. Neo-liberalism at its grubby worst, I’d say.

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