UK-commissioned EU migration impact study promises no Brexit cliff-edge

The UK and EU negotiating teams sit down in Brussels. [European Commission]

Britain commissioned an independent study on Thursday (27 July) on the role European Union nationals play in the British economy, saying that Brexit would mean new immigration rules, but that there would be no sudden cut-off for workers or employers.

As Britain begins negotiations to leave the EU, ministers have said little about the kind of immigration system they want to replace the EU’s freedom of movement rules. That has left companies worried that they may lose access to EU workers.

Brexit talks place citizens' rights in limbo

Brexit negotiators will face “extraordinarily complex” talks over the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British expats in Europe, according to sources in Brussels.

Interior minister Amber Rudd asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), a public body that advises the government, to look at how migration affects the labour market and the wider economy, and how the post-Brexit rules need to work to support the country’s plans for an industrial revival.

A government statement said Rudd would stress in a letter to the MAC that “there will be an implementation period when the UK leaves the EU to ensure there is no ‘cliff edge’ for employers or EU nationals in the UK.

“Leaving the European Union gives us the opportunity to take control of immigration from the EU. We will ensure we continue to attract those who benefit us economically, socially and culturally,” Rudd said in an emailed statement.

Public sector jobs fail to escape Brexit uncertainty

Public sector jobs in the United Kingdom and in the EU itself are far from safe from the uncertainty generated by Brexit. UK public services are already suffering and British civil servants could be put out to pasture by Brussels.

“But, at the same time, our new immigration system will give us control of the volume of people coming here – giving the public confidence we are applying our own rules on who we want to come to the UK and helping us to bring down net migration to sustainable levels.”

Concern about the long-term social and economic impact of immigration helped drive last year’s vote to leave the EU, and the government has a long-standing aim to bring net migration into Britain below 100,000. In 2016, total net migration was 248,000.

London to open Brexit talks by offering to protect rights of EU citizens in UK

The UK’s Brexit minister, David Davis, will open divorce talks in Brussels next week with an offer to allow the three million European Union citizens living in Britain the same rights that they have now, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday (14 June).

But a wide range of companies have expressed concern that they will not be able to hire the people they need to operate, from skilled financiers to unskilled farm workers. The effect could be to force them to relocate.

The government said the MAC, which is expected to report back in September 2018, will be asked to look at a range of issues:

  • The current patterns of EEA (European Economic Area) migration, including which sectors rely most on EU labour.
  • The economic and social costs and benefits of EU migration to the British economy.
  • The potential impact of a reduction in EU migration and the ways in which both business and the government could adjust to this change.
  • The current impact of immigration, from both EU and non-EU countries, on the competitiveness of British industry and skills and training.
  • Whether there is any evidence that the availability of unskilled labour has led to low UK investment in certain sectors.
  • If there are advantages to focusing migrant labour on high-skilled jobs.



From Twitter

Subscribe to our newsletters


Want to know what's going on in the EU Capitals daily? Subscribe now to our new 9am newsletter.