Where there’s a will …

Dame Louise Casey’s Review of Opportunity and Integration was published yesterday. While most of the headlines are about ethnic and religious stuff, Sunder Katwala writing for British Future notes (with my emphasis)

The Review does focus heavily on British Muslim communities. This is doubtless the area of greatest political and public concern. Given that the prime ministerial remit was “how to boost opportunity and integration in our most isolated and deprived communities” then the review team could say that this was where the evidence took them. But a focus on those most at risk of marginalisation makes it harder to articulate the need for integration to be an issue for everybody.

Indeed. It’s clear from the report that the issues don’t arise just for (or from) people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds. For example …

So what about helping out people like these? It might come as no surprise to people that the EU has all sorts of initiatives to do with integration, not just the obvious for refugees coming from outside the EU but also to enable and encourage free movement of EU citizens within the EU. Indeed the latter urge was behind the adoption of Directive 2014/54/EU on ‘overcoming barriers to free movement’ and ‘preventing discrimination’ adopted back in May 2014. The Press Release summarises that the UK and the other member States must provide bodies at national level to provide support and legal assistance to EU migrant workers with the enforcement of their rights and also e.g. easily accessible information in appropriate languages. These might be just the sort of things that individual local authorities might struggle to provide, especially at short notice.

László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, said unsurprisingly at the time: “I warmly welcome today’s approval of the Directive, less than one year since the Commission presented the proposal. This is good news for all those who want to work or are already working in another Member State’

Approval within a year was fast work by EU standards. There wasn’t much to be seen of any debate though. A Commission proposal was agreed by the European Parliament, nodded through by ambassadors behind the closed doors of a ‘COREPER II’ meeting on an agenda of over 100 items, and rubber-stamped without further discussion in a meeting of the European Council in its ‘Agriculture and Fisheries’ formation (also on the list were salaries for EU officials and harmonisation of phone chargers).

That’s enough of how the EU works though, the result being that everyone then had two years to implement the Directive. I was quite interested in this, in particular the effort that would be put in by the UK government and what bodies would be designated to provide the required support and legal assistance to EU migrant workers with the enforcement of their rights. So I asked the Home Office (under the Freedom of Information Act) back in January who they were. I got a response, though not until the end of April and well after the statutory deadline for FOI responses, that I thought was telling me that I would just have to wait until the implementation date to see . Which is fair enough if giving me the information might pre-empt a grand launch on the day, so I let it rest.

To date, the Home Office has not designated any structure or body for the purpose of transposing Article 4(1) of Directive 2014/54/EU and is only required to designate a structure or body from the transposition deadline of the Directive. The Home Office intends to publish this information following the Directive’s transposition deadline.

However, the transposition deadline of 21 May came and went so I asked again in case I had missed the announcement. The statutory deadline for responding to an FOI request again then came and went too, and after a couple of reminders I was told…

Although we did aim to respond by 11 August 2016, consideration of this case is taking longer than we anticipated, so we have been unable to do so. I want to reassure you that your request is under active consideration.
 I cannot say precisely when we will be in a position to provide a substantive response, but I hope that the delay will not be too long.

Really? What’s to consider?? Eventually I received this as a substantive response …

The UK already broadly fulfils the obligations set out in the Directive and these are reflected in our domestic laws. The Home Office has not yet specifically designated any structure or body for the purpose of transposing Article 4(1) of Directive 2014/54/EU. On 20 May 2016, the Home Office informed the Commission that it was holding discussions with relevant bodies to give effect to this provision.

Well, whether the UK broadly fulfils the obligations isn’t really the point, as seems to be acknowledged in ‘has not yet’ in the second sentence. And the third sentence might make one wonder why the Home Office waited until the day before full implementation was due (a whole two years after the Directive was adopted) to tell the Commission that it wasn’t ready, and wonder too when those discussions had actually been started.

Six months having passed since the due implementation date I asked the Home Office again.

I’m still waiting for their reply…..