LeaveHQ, 25/03/2016  

Amongst 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.


What is 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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