Duncan Lewis


Asylum, Detention/ Fast Track

Managed Migration, Public Law

David Cameron facing pressure by his ministers to take up a new move by Spain to control its borders

Date: (30 July 2012)    |    

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A move by the Spanish government demanding proof of income from expats who want to live in Spain as its economy is floundering, similar controls are being sought by ministers in the UK.
Madrid hopes to save more than €1?billion Euros (£780?million) a year by clamping down on ‘economic migrants’ from other EU countries, including the UK.
A new ministerial order, slipped out by the Spanish government on July 9, states that any EU citizen living in Spain for more than three months must prove they will not become a financial burden on the State by producing a job contract or documents confirming they have enough money to support themselves.
If they are jobless, they must also show they are covered by health insurance. The decree, which potentially affects thousands of Britons seeking a new life in the country, declares that Spain will now adopt a stricter interpretation of the ‘free movement’ principle.
The Spanish government has justified the measures by pointing to Article 7 of the 2004 EU directive on free movement, which gives EU member states the power to define it ‘without prejudice to national border controls’, in other words, entry conditions can be imposed on other EU citizens by member governments.
Similar provisions which were enacted by the UK was never used says Phil Woolas, who served as Immigration Minister between 2008 and 2010.
He said UK did have the powers to deport EU citizens, but they were ignored by the British authorities. It should be used like the Spanish and change its approach.
It is only fair that the available laws were enforced and stop turning a blind eye to abuses by EU citizens.
Woolas revealed that when he was a Minister he tried to deport a group of Polish rough-sleepers who had set up camp in Peterborough town centre, but was repeatedly told by officials that he had no powers to do so.
The idea, that bank statements are checked to ensure these people are not a burden is just nonsense, he said. Freedom of movement is still the prevailing doctrine.
The Spanish government admits in a preamble to the legislation that it has failed in the past to regulate immigration from within the EU.
This, it says, has had a cascading effect and economic loss to Spain, especially because of the impossibility of guaranteeing the refund of expenditure caused by the provision of health and social services to European citizens.
Since 2007, EU citizens living in Spain for more than three months have had to register with the authorities, but there have been no checks on their financial situation.
British diplomats in Madrid are trying to establish how the rule change will affect the 400,000 Britons who have homes in Spain.
Spain is in the grip of its worst economic crisis since the Forties and is almost certain to require a bailout in the coming weeks.

A Foreign Office spokesman said the change simply brings Spain in line with many other EU countries.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘EU nationals who want to stay in the UK for more than three months must have proof they are working, studying or are self-sufficient.