Britain may be offered the option of instituting a seven-year "emergency brake" on immigration from the EU as part of a deal to keep the economic powerhouse in the European single market according to top British diplomats – a major breakthrough for Brexit backers as the UK may ultimately be able to have their cake and eat it too.
British and European officials believe the move may be necessary to soften the economic shock faced by both parties upon the UK exiting the European Union while addressing people’s concerns over the influx of Islamic migrants in the wake of a grow batch of terrorist attacks across the continent.
Brussels appears ready to commit to the move in an attempt to stymie the growth of Euroscepticism throughout the continent with far-right nationalists gaining steam in France, Greece, and Austria leaving the European Union struggling to stay alive.
The proposal may ultimately backfire, however, as countries may soon come to realize that they can enjoy the benefits of accessing the European single market and its 500 million customers without the hardship of paying dues to the European Union or holding their weight in addressing the growing migrant crisis creating a perverse incentive for countries across the continent to hold referendums to exit only to barter for a better deal.
Senior British Ministers led by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson are determined to have their cake and eat it too enjoying a tariff-free trade environment while shirking on the country’s joint responsibilities with the rest of the European community.
However, there is strong resistance in Europe – led by the beleaguered French President Francois Hollande – to providing the UK a type of preferred status allowing them to enjoy the fruits of the European experiment on the backs of its actual member states.
Despite the opposition, Senior British officials have told the The Guardian that Britain receiving a seven-year break on freedom of movement from the EU is "certainly one of the ideas now on the table."
The Italian government is prepared to support an emergency brake on immigration for the UK according to Nathalie Tocci, special adviser to the EU high representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini. Tocci said that the "emergency brake" must indeed be only a temporary provision with a set time limit.
"I see no reason why it could not say, say, between seven and 10 years," said Tocci. "This was how long temporary derogations lasted after the 2004 enlargement, which the UK chose not to benefit from."
The question that now waits before European leaders is whether a seven year or a 10 year limit on immigration from Europe into the UK will in fact be a temporary provision or whether the can is just being kicked down the road for a similar squabble at that time.