The Brexit debate: UK-EU freedom of movement
With Article 50 having been triggered, debates are still raging as to what Brexit will mean for the UK’s immigration policy.
Will EU citizens still have the right to free movement? Will the UK shut its borders completely?
According to Home Secretary, Amber Rudd the process should mean that the freedom of movement will end in March 2019, when the two-year negotiations are scheduled to be completed and hopefully will allow the UK to control its borders while maintaining the economic and social benefits that comes with the migration of EU workers.
The Conservatives manifesto stated that they would reduce net migration from the current 248,000 to tens of thousands. This should see an even bigger shift towards only the most skilled EU workers being admitted to the country and a much more rigorous testing in order to be permitted into the UK.
The Conservatives will be hoping that the new policy will allow greater control of our borders and open up more jobs for British workers but at the same time as Amber Rudd put it ‘continue to attract those who benefit us economically, socially and culturally’.
However, the process still seems to be a long way from being a stable plan ready to be set in motion: a detailed assessment of the pros and cons of migrant workers has been commissioned but the report is not expected until September 2018.
In the meantime, a so called ‘implementation phrase’ involving EU workers registering their details will be used. Therefore, despite the urge from CBI that businesses desperately need a clear idea of the new system scheduled for post-Brexit, a lengthy period of uncertainty still remains before we get an idea of how our borders will look once we leave the European Union.
It has also been confirmed that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will launch a detailed investigation into the role of EU citizens in the UK economy and society in order to better gauge the best plan moving forward with the Brexit negotiations. Ms Rudd stressed the importance of working closely with UK businesses to ensure that the effects of Brexit are not damaging.
What is important to note is that the announcement will not affect EU citizens already living here, but concerns the future immigration system and Ms Rudd re-emphasised the proposal agreed on the 26th of June that all EU citizens with settled status will continue to be treated as UK citizens and that no EU citizen currently in the UK will be asked to leave once the Brexit negotiations are finalised.
Following a meeting with the European Commission last week it seems that there was agreement between the two parties on a large number of issues, in fact half of the issues that were raised were resolved giving promising signs, however EU citizens will still be anxious and paying careful attention to the immigration negotiations as they develop as Britain lays out its post Brexit immigration plan.