The GERB/EPP MEP’s comments reference recently published research by the Guardian, according to which more than 30,000 British citizens are currently taking advantage of other European countries’ welfare provisions.
‘Patterns of migration within the European Union are far more complex than British nationalists are willing to admit. We need to put a stop to the simplistic, populist rhetoric promoted by the far-right and currently influencing mainstream discussion, which paints the freedom of movement as a threat to the British state.’
Ms Paunova pointed out that in wealthy member states such as Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg and France, immigrants from the UK enjoy generous benefit packages often far exceeding what they would be entitled to in their home country.
In a BBC interview from October 2014, Paunova underscored the importance of the free movement of persons within the Union and rejected the notion that either David Cameron, the UK’s PM, or UKIP, the country’s ultra-conservative, anti-immigration party, could challenge one of the single market’s principal freedoms in any meaningful way. She also questioned the potential implications of other member states with big expat communities (such as Spain, Ireland or France) suddenly deciding that British citizens are no longer welcome in their country. The Bulgarian MEP branded the UK government’s efforts to curb immigration to ostensibly prevent misuse of its welfare system ‘inappropriate’, as statistics show that Britons themselves do not shy away from utilising wealthier EU members’ benefits frameworks.
‘European leaders are unlikely to consider imposing restrictions on free movement, and British arguments to the contrary lack any legitimacy’ concluded Ms. Paunova