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There Is No Need to Single Out and Stigmatise Poles

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The sky can tell you all you need to know about the coming weather. "Swallows flying near the ground mean a storm will come around." After beautiful sunshine, swallows are seen to be flying low and thus announce the arrival of rain. But if you try hard to overhear swallows, they say:" Look, people are looking at us; it is going to rain". We so rarely look at things from another perspective. It is also worth studying psychology and sociology to better understand the world around us. I mean things like "self-fulfilling prophecies", defined by Robert K. Merton as, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behaviour which makes the original false conception come 'true'. This specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. My point is, that we usually approach the issue of immigration from a completely wrong perspective, concentrating on numbers, nationalities, and statistics. Let me be a swallow.

The United Kingdom is a great country.

"The British are as much heirs to the legacy of European culture as any other nation. The British links to the continent of Europe, have been the dominant factor in the UK's history. Celts, Saxons, Danes came from the Continent. If you visit the great churches and cathedrals of Britain, read British literature and listen to the language: all bear witness to the cultural riches which the UK has drawn from Europe and other Europeans from the UK. People in Britain are rightly proud of the way in which, since Magna Carta in 1215, the UK has pioneered and developed representative institutions to stand as bastions of freedom. And proud too of the way in which for centuries Britain was a home for people from the rest of Europe who sought sanctuary from tyranny. But the British know that without the European legacy of political ideas they could not have achieved as much as they did. The British have fought and have died for Europe's freedom. It was British support to resistance movements throughout the last War that helped to keep alive the flame of liberty in so many countries until the day of liberation."

What a great speech in Brugge in 1988! I cannot but agree. You are a victim of your success.

Why do foreigners come to the UK and want to work and settle down here? It is precisely because you are a great country. When prime minister David Cameron launched the "GREAT" campaign in 2012 he was right when he said, "There are so many great things about Britain and we want to send out the message loud and proud that this is a great place to do business, to invest, to study and to visit." Let me just add to the key themes that make Britain GREAT: countryside, culture, heritage, creativity, entrepreneurs, green, innovation, knowledge, shopping, sport, music and technology - your tradition of freedom and democracy, your stable institutions, your fantastic police and military forces guaranteeing safety, your NHS system, your ease of starting a business, etc. I could continue this list for many pages. When we discuss immigration, let us not talk about numbers and nationalities; let us concentrate on solving the problems together, on assimilation and integration, on preventing uneasiness in neighbourhoods where there is a significant increase in population, on showing the benefits for the UK.

Let me return to M. Thatcher's speech, in which she said:

"We must never forget that east of the Iron Curtain, people who once enjoyed a full share of European culture, freedom and identity have been cut off from their roots. We shall always look on Warsaw, Prague and Budapest as great European cities. Our destiny is in Europe, as part of the Community. The European Community is a practical means by which Europe can ensure the future prosperity and security of its people in a world in which there are many other powerful nations and groups of nations. The UK wants to make it easier for goods to pass through frontiers. We must make it easier for people to travel throughout the Community."

She was right. The EU's internal market, created to a large extent by the UK, seeks to guarantee the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people within the EU's 28 states. The free movement of people is a fundamental right guaranteed to EU citizens by the Treaties. Workers and their families have the right to move to a different Member State, to look for work and be employed under the same conditions as nationals of that State and benefit from the same social and tax advantages.

I am happy that Poles in the UK fill job vacancies and skills gaps, facilitate growth in the economy, pay taxes contributing the UK's budget, maintain services to an ageing population when there are insufficient workers locally, fill pension gaps by the contributions of new young workers, bring energy and innovation, enrich the UK by cultural diversity, transform schools for the better, help some local businesses survive or make it unnecessary for them to relocate production abroad, bring benefits to the tourism industry through inviting their friends and relatives to the UK and by the new air routes, increase the productivity or efficiency at work, contribute new ideas and a fresh approach to their firms. They come here to work hard, not to abuse the system or grab the benefits. Whatever they do, they do in accordance with the law of the UK, of a great, successful, hospitable country.

As minister Radoslaw Sikorski has said: We sympathise with prime minister David Cameron's efforts "to plug loopholes" in the benefits system, and the Polish government would "consider every British government proposal very seriously". But, the freedom of movement in the EU is "a pan-EU rule which also benefits UK citizens living in other European countries". If the UK wants to make the benefits system less generous, minister Sikorski said, it should do so "in a non-discriminatory manner and without stigmatising people".

There is no need to single out, to stigmatise Poles. As M. Thatcher said:

My first guiding principle is this: willing and active cooperation between independent sovereign states is the best way to build a successful European Community. I want to see us work more closely on the things we can do better together than alone. Europe is stronger when we do so.

The UK has a lot of common interests with Poland. We have been for years a close ally and partner in Europe, and in the world. We can do a lot together. In five years we will celebrate 100 years of our diplomatic relations. Two great countries cooperating closely in many areas to their mutual benefit. Thank you for supporting our membership of the EU and NATO, for being a champion of enlargement and the single market, for opening the borders in May 2004 to all the new EU members, and for appreciating our hard work in the UK which contributes to the UK's prosperity and growth.

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