all the huffing and puffing of David Cameron trying and failing to get an
“emergency brake” on free movement, and coming back with the possibility of
minor restrictions on migrant welfare, it has not been reported or discussed
that non-EU EEA states actually do have an emergency brake.
more, EEA countries are able to activate their “emergency brake” unilaterally
to suspend freedom of movement, rather than having to petition the Commission. Free
movement of workers is a non-negotiable part of the EEA treaty, but Articles
112-3 of the EEA Agreement, give members “safeguard measures”
which allow parties to unilaterally take “appropriate measures” if serious
economic, societal or environmental difficulties are liable to persist.
They have been invoked by Lichtenstein,
and reinforced by the transitional agreements of Protocol 15 (Article 5–7) of the EEA
agreement, which allowed Liechtenstein to keep specific restrictions on the
free movement of people until 1998. They have also been invoked by Iceland
in the wake of the 2008 banking crisis when it suspended free movement of
capital by implementing capital controls. These are EEA members with significantly
less potential influence than Britain, yet they have a significant power that
we lack; the ability to suspend fundamental freedoms in time of strain.
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