The European Union's justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, has told British politicians to stop blaming UK immigration for the country's problems.
Speaking at the University of Cambridge, she criticised the ongoing “distorted” debate surrounding UK immigration and the country's position with regards to the EU, the Press Association reported.
The comments follow efforts by the prime minister David Cameron to renegotiate the UK's terms of membership with the EU. Cameron has put forward suggestions regarding changing the rights of migrants from member countries with regards to benefits and working.
These suggestions were rejected but the prime minister is set to uphold a pledge a negotiate reforms and deliver an in/out referendum on membership by 2017 if his party wins the next general election.
Ms Reding was keen to underline the fact that EU member countries are not allowed to pick and choose the aspects of membership that suit them. She said: “The four freedoms enshrined in the EU treaties come as a package. You either enjoy all of them - or none.
“Those who benefit from the free flow of capital, goods and services must also accept that our citizens are free to move in the EU to travel, study and work.”
She added that rather than trying to “project all problems on the supposed issue of too many foreigners moving into the country”, the government and politicians in general need to “work on the quality of education and welfare, so that people in this country can find employment and enjoy reasonable social standards”.
Ms Reding called for the UK to deal with its problems and focus on growth with the EU, instead of sparking debates that risk inflicting damage by withholding the union as a whole.