Shameless Populism from David Cameron

Last Monday BalkanInsight quoted David Cameron saying:

As we contemplate countries like Serbia or Albania one day joining the EU, we must find a way to slow down access to each other’s labour markets until we can be sure that it will not cause vast migrations…

He should be embarrassed. One of the EU’s greatest successes has been the creation of the common market and the attendant free movement of labor within its borders. And the United Kingdom historically has been one of the greatest champions of free markets within the auspices of the European Union. Purporting to offer countries full EU membership while relegating their citizens to second-class status in EU labor markets is unfair, undermines the legal basis of the Union itself, and makes it artificially (and needlessly) more challenging for those countries’ economies to converge with those of their richer EU counterparts.

If David Cameron wants fewer Eastern Europeans walking the streets of London (though he would be misguided if he did), he should be proactively supporting anything that supports the more rapid development of their economies. Holding the employment and residency rights of new European Union citizens hostage until their home economies achieve economic indicators determined in a politically expedient fashion by legislators in London, Brussels, Paris, or Berlin is certain to entrench an underclass of disadvantaged constituents and undermine the European project more thoroughly. One hopes David Cameron’s got pandering out of his system in 2013. And luckily for Serbia and Albania, by the time their accession comes up for a vote he’s likely to be far removed from the corridors of European power.