No More Free Mobility of People in the E.U.

Source: Robert Skidelsky, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy, Warwick University, and author of a three-volume biography of Keynes, Project Syndicate, July 18

…The era of unregulated mass population movement is drawing to a close. As the Brexit vote shows, Europe’s political class greatly underestimated the strains caused by free mobility across borders – a shibboleth of the failed neoliberal project of maximizing market-based resource allocation.

Critics of neoliberalism cannot consistently exempt population movements from regulation. Indeed, the fatal flaw of free mobility in the E.U. is that it always presupposed a state to manage the movement. This state does not exist. Giving people an E.U. passport doesn’t legitimize a single labor market, which is why “emergency brakes” on migration within the E.U. are inevitable.


3 responses to “No More Free Mobility of People in the E.U.

  1. Michael Gundy

    Could this also be called quality of life, including social services, arbitrage? Is there a school of economics that quantifies this concept?

  2. mike holliday

    I like easy to understand explanations. Not simple answers to complex questions, but plainspeak.
    The `great big melting pot’ of the popular song was distorted by the rich and powerful who were motivated by greed rather than humanity.
    They saw well-off communities with social conditions paid for by taxation.
    That taxation was high because wages were high.
    Look at the societies of – particularly the western world – and consider for a moment what the work and social conditions would be like today had unions been strangled at birth.
    Having failed to kill unions, the powerful and greedy decided to attack those expensive workers by replacing them with machines and technology and by workers willing to accept lower pay.
    The source of those workers – countries that did not have a sound tax base and so had adequate health, education, social and pension systems.
    The upshot. Massive social unrest.
    Brexit is the most notable outcome to date, but look out.
    You’ll see many more `Donalds’ as people in developed countries attempt to maintain their standards of living.

  3. Jan Krouzil

    Re-reading John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Culture of Contentment may prove worthwhile on this point.