Is Spain right to introduce means tests for Britons?
August 2, 2012 4 Comments
Guest post by Anna Nicholas
In the midst of its economic crisis,Spain has declared that it will now demand ‘proof of income’ from Britons and other European nationals hoping to settle in the country, claiming that as a consequence it will save €1 billion annually.
It’s hard to blame Spain. For years now an increasing number of Europeans have entered the country-Britons being the worst offenders- purely for ‘health tourism’ purposes. Spanish hospitals have a reputation for offering an excellent service, shorter waiting lists, and cheaper treatments and many migrants have availed themselves of the public health system at a huge cost to the country. The Spanish government estimates that at least 700,000 foreigners have moved to Spain just to make use of the healthcare services on offer. Now all that is set to change.
In the 2004 EU directive on free movement member states were permitted to impose their own entry conditions on other EU citizens of member governments and so Spain has finally decided to put that codicil to the test. No longer will anyone be able to pitch up in the country for longer than three months without private means, a job or at least a pension, and private health insurance will be a prerequisite except in the case of pensioners from other EU countries.
With 5.7 million unemployed, a whopping 24.6 percent of the workforce, Spain can no longer support those proving to be a burden on the state. In the near future in-coming European nationals will have to undergo a form of means test in order to prove that they will not be a drain on social services and will be fully able to support themselves financially. In a further move, the government under president Mariano Rajoy will attempt to arrest the number of foreign residents failing to register as living full time in the country and paying the necessary taxation.
By contrast, those Spanish nationals arriving in the UK face no such scrutiny and are not required to have private health insurance leading some to believe that Spain’s initiative will offer the green light to other EU member countries to follow suit.
With the EU dream practically in tatters and the euro teetering on the edge of an abyss, the final nail in the coffin would surely be the end of free movement –without financial strings attached- for the citizens of its member states? As Spain breaks free of its constraints, it’s only a matter of time before others follow. If that should happen and even if the euro doesn’t collapse like a soggy soufflé, what real future does it have?
Article source: My Telegraph.