In Depth

Viviane Reding: British public fed 'myths' about immigration

Brussels official wants a 'United States of Europe’ but is she unintentionally helping Ukip win votes?

BRITISH ministers are stoking fears about European Union migrants, according to a top Brussels official who wants to see a "United States of Europe". 

Viviane Reding, the vice-president of the European Commission, has said it is "simply not true" that there is an "invasion of foreigners" stealing jobs and draining welfare and health resources in the UK.

During a webchat on European citizenship, Reding said that most of the things that the British public are told about Europe are "myths" and "have nothing to do with reality". She claimed that political leaders in the UK were adopting populist tactics simply to win votes.

"I’m mostly frustrated about the political leaders," she said. "What is leadership if you just try with political movements and political speeches to gain votes? You are destroying the future of your people, actually."

Reding, who is the longest serving Brussels commissioner, insisted that EU immigrants to Britain contribute far more to the country's coffers than they take out, claiming Britain's GDP has risen by three to four per cent because of the input of working Europeans coming to the country.

"It's just a myth to speak about an invasion, this invasion is just not taking place," she added.

In the Daily Telegraph, Bruno Waterfield says the idea that a United States of Europe could have any popular appeal illustrates "the distant remoteness of the world that is planet EU".

Reding's vision, which is shared by many in the European institutions, would transform the EU into a "superstate" relegating national governments and parliaments to a minor political role equivalent to that played by local councils in Britain, he says.

If voters are offered a choice of "more Europe", they will vote against it in droves, he adds. Reding has emerged as Nigel Farage's best friend, as "the more she speaks out, the more votes Ukip will be able to bank".

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