Friday, 31 May 2013
Pilgrim's Regress: UK faces both ways.
Our politicians and media are outraged that the wicked Spanish (and possibly the Portuguese as well) are refusing to honour the Ehic card (which used to be the E111 form) which guarantees access to health services at the same level of nationals to innocent and trusting British citizens travelling within the European Union. What perfidy.
At the same time our government is being arraigned before the European Court of Justice for its failure to honour the EU commitment that social security benefits should be available to to all EU citizens working in other EU member countries on the same basis as nationals. Our Secretary of State, Ian Duncan Smith, vows that he will "fight every step of the way" to preserved Britain's practice, initially introduced by Labour, of treating other European nationals differently.
It is now a commonplace that our politicians routinely blame "Europe" for rules against which the media stirs up antipathy. The rules regarding equality of access to social security were agreed by all 27 member states, including Britain. The government and media are forever spouting about British "values." What about an Englishman's word being his bond?
And we should also remember that equal access to social security benefits are a valuable safeguard for the thousands of British citizens working in other EU countires, just as much as the Ehic card, if honoured, safeguards UK tourists.