The Queen Hath Spoken: control immigration from Croatia, don’t come asking UK for money to help save struggling EU nations

Wednesday 9 May, Queen Elizabeth II gave her speech in the UK parliament, setting out the government’s legislative plans for the next year.

The Queen hath spoken, but she didn’t give much detail away as the announced Bills are still in draft stages and haven’t been published yet.

While there’s a long list of Bills referred to in the Queen’s speech (particularly in the area of tackling Britain’s ailing  economy) the ones that draw my attention here are the “European Union  (Approval of Treaty Amendment Decision) Bill” and the “Croatia Accession Bill”.

The first Bill seeks to end the UK euro bailout exposure. The Bill basically seeks to approve the creation of the European Stability Mechanism, a permanent means to support Eurozone countries in trouble, but exempts the UK from a new European bailout agreement between Eurozone countries.

The Croatia Accession Bill is about Parliamentary approval for Croatia to join the EU and allows for immigration to the UK from the new member to be controlled.

The Croatia Accession Bill seems set to crush much of the enthusiasm of young Croatians who voted “Yes” in December 2011 at Croatian accession to EU referendum, convinced that doors of the whole of European Union will be opened for them to seek and obtain employment, residency etc. with ease. Not that there would be a stampede of young intellectuals and professionals, or workers in general, out of Croatia after July 2013, when Croatia is expected to become a full EU member, but at least the relative freedom of movement for livelihood purposes was/is expected.

While it’s not yet clear what the “control of immigration” into UK from Croatia really means, as the full text of the Bill is not yet published, there’s an annoying feeling tingling in the air that “euroenthusiasts” in Croatia are in for a rude shock. They can thank the new Kukuriku (Cock-a-doodle-doo) coalition government for enticing them into the “Yes to EU” vote – for, employment opportunities in EU was one of the positive points the foreign minister Vesna Pusic had printed on the government’s referendum campaign brochures.

It has been clear for many years that the UK would like to reap the benefits from EU membership (e.g. ease of trade, ease of investments in EU countries, increasing its wealth though buying-up assets in EU countries, having a say in EU legislative process …), but not share too many responsibilities if things go wrong. Much hasn’t changed in the way the UK does business abroad since the days of its imperialistic and colonizing days of “glory”, it seems.

The Queen’s announcement of legislation to confirm Croatia’s accession the EU did not include the bill to commit the UK to give 0.7% of national income in overseas aid. It has been said that the UK government expects to meet this foreign aid target by next year, but has opted not to mandate itself to do it every year in law.

So it looks like UK is leading the way in the “every man for himself” battleground when times get tough. This may not be a bad approach to national survival, in fact it’s welcome in many respects but the problem is that it’s always the UK loud bells that ring – alarmingly and condemnably – when some other country’s leaders are pursuing nationalistic approaches to protecting their nation.

Croatia should learn from this and start seriously limiting the acquisition of Croatia’s assets by foreign countries, even by those that are members of the EU. All those in Croatia who had in the past twenty years been inclined to follow the hypocrisy in foreign powerful bells that labelled Franjo Tudjman a nationalist should now take pause and rethink their position for – Croatia First! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)

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