Macron plots free movement CRACKDOWN: French president on course for huge EU row

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Macron plots free movement CRACKDOWN: French president on course for huge EU row

Macron plots free movement CRACKDOWN: French president on course for huge EU row
FRANCE and Sweden are preparing for a mighty scrap with Eastern European nations as they prepare the ground for a crackdown on low paid migration under free movement rules.
By Nick Gutteridge, Brussels Correspondent
PUBLISHED: 11:11, Tue, Aug 1, 2017 | UPDATED: 12:39, Tue, Aug 1, 2017

Swedish PM Stefan Lovfen and French president Emmanuel MacronGETTY
Swedish PM Stefan Lovfen and French president Emmanuel Macron

French president Emmanuel Macron met with his counterpart Stefan Löfven in Paris this week to discuss how they can tackle the issue together and get countries like Poland on board.

The pair are determined to stamp out what has become known as social “dumping” – the phenomenon of employers in the West seeking out workers from low-wage Eastern EU states to undercut pay and working conditions.
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Mr Lofven has invited the leaders of all 28 member states to a special conference in Gothenburg in the Autumn at which he hopes they will agree a way forward on tightening up free movement rules.

But any changes will be tough to get past Poland and the Baltic states, as well as Romania and Bulgaria, which still benefit economically from the wages sent home by expat workers in Britain, France, the Netherlands and Germany in particular.

But the Swedish PM now has a particularly powerful ally in the form of Mr Macron, who has taken a surprisingly tough line on internal EU migration since his election in a bid to assuage supporters of Marine Le Pen.

The new Paris chief has railed against Polish haulage firms for undercutting French businesses and has vowed to put an end to cheap Eastern European labour which he says is dragging down people’s working conditions.

Eastern European leaders have been caught by surprise by the way Mr Macron, who was painted as the saviour of the EU during his election campaign, has aggressively attacked one of the bloc’s founding principles.

Sweden has also long been an opponent of social dumping ever since its Government lost a high-profile EU court case, in 2005, against a Latvian company accused of undercutting wages on a public building project.

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Sweden has taken on more than its share of responsibility

Emmanuel Macron

And now Mr Lovfen feels that he can make progress on the issue, because Eastern European states are themselves starting to feel the same pay pinch in relation to workers coming to their countries from poorer neighbours like Ukraine.

During their meeting the pair also discussed the prospect on a centralised EU asylum system, with Mr Macron saying that Sweden has taken on “more than its share” of refugees since 2015.

The Nordic country, which has a population of 10 million, has taken in almost a quarter of a million migrants since 2015, more than almost any other country except Germany.

Both France and Sweden now want a common asylum system, managed by quotas, but this is being ferociously fought by Eastern European states including Poland and Hungary who say it is an unacceptable breach of sovereignty.
BORDER-FREE Schengen: Countries you can visit WITHOUT a passport
Mon, January 23, 2017
If you are an EU national, you do not need to show your national ID card or passport when you are travelling from one border-free Schengen EU country to another. The Schengen Area is an area comprising 26 European states that have officially abolished passport and any other type of border control at their mutual borders.

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Speaking in Paris, Mr Macron said: “Sweden took on more than its share of responsibility by receiving more than 160,000 asylum seekers in 2015 alone, and its appeal for solidarity in this area in the European Union has been heard.

“I would like a more pro-active policy in this area, based on serious policy reform when it comes to the reception and administration of asylum seekers in France and urgent reform of European asylum policy.”

In his statement, Mr Lovfen added: “We have talked about the need to better manage the migration flows to Europe. This is obviously a key issue for both our countries.

“The European Union urgently needs a new common asylum system built on shared responsibility between all the Member States. We also discussed ways to address all the root causes of migration, including in countries in sub-Saharan Africa where both France and Sweden have a presence.”
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