It is a simple fact that the range of EU competencies is astonishingly wide, and are prone to mission creep: an EU competency in "green" issues, for instance, becomes a plausible excuse for EU meddling in energy generation policy.
Today, we come across another example of this mission creep...
As we all know, the Coalition are cracking down on non-EU immigrants: in fact, they have placed a cap on such immigration*. The reason that they have not placed a cap on EU immigration is because, quite simply, they cannot—EU law has primacy over British law ad EU immigration is an EU competence.
But we do have control over non-EU immigration. Or, as England Expects highlights, maybe not: you see, the EU is about to complete a trade deal with India—and trade is solely an EU competence.
"So what?" I hear you cry. "What the hell has that got to do with immigration?"
Well, as Bruno Waterfield points out, quite a lot, as it happens...
A planned "free trade agreement" with India, to be signed this December, will give skilled Indian IT workers, engineers and managers easy passage into Europe in return for European companies gaining access to India's huge domestic market.
Put simply, in return for access to India's domestic markets, the EU will allow thousands of Indians into EU countries. Now, personally, I am all for free trade—in people as well as goods and capital.
But that, of course, is not the point.
The point is that the EU's total control over trade has allowed that organisation to extent its competence into an area over which it is not supposed to have any jurisdiction, i.e. non-EU immigration policy.
Mission creep—do you see? And not a power-ceding treaty in sight...
P.S. Lest someone pop up and accuse me of swallowing the anti-EU Telegraph's evil propaganda, I will let England Expects point you to the following headlines in the Indian newspapers...
Here is The Hindu:India-EU trade deal may help bypass UK migration cap
Here is The New Kerala:EU-India 'free trade agreement' will allow flood of Indian skilled workers into Britain
The Times of India Business:India-EU trade deal may nullify UK migration cap
You get the point.
Indeed we do.
As I say, the point here is not about whether immigration is a good or a bad thing: this is simply an illustration of the way in which the EU co-opts new powers for itself through sleight of hand—and to show how utterly fucking pointless the Tories' "referendum lock" actually is.
The final point to note is that our government is not in control—or, at least, the one in Westminster is not. The only powers that the British government has are those that the EU has not yet taken control of.
UPDATE: EuroGoblin is calling bullshit on this story...
Despite hunting, I can’t actually find a copy of the FTA text anywhere online – so I assume most people are commenting on it without having read the clause in question. However, I really don’t need to read the clause to know this particular story is bullshit. Free Trade Agreements require unanimity in the Council before they can be adopted by the EU, and this will also be the case with the Indian deal. A similar deal was recently passed between the EU and South Korea, and Italy threatened to veto unless the implementation was delayed by six months. Guess what? Italy was given the six month delay and then dropped its veto.
Thus, is it the case – as the Devil argues – that “our government is not in control”? No, that’s obviously rubbish. If the UK government wants to (and it almost certainly does), it will veto the agreement unless an opt-out is secured. It has, after all, secured numerous opt-outs in the past on immigration and trade policy – in fact, the UK has a complete opt-out from the common EU immigration policy and instead “opts-in” to what it wants.
Which is all quite probably true: I guess we'll just have to see how this pans out. If EuroGoblin is correct—and I've no reason to think he's not—and The Coalition does not object, then we'll know that their anti-immigration rhetoric is meaningless (thankfully).
* Anyone know if that applies to people already here, by the way...?