This relates to implications of Brexit on European Citizens working in the UK and covers the following topics:
- Brexit and the Great Repeal Bill;
- Future of EU Nationals Already in Britain;
- The possibility of Guaranteeing Residency Rights to EU Nationals;
- Tourist Visiting UK from the European Union;
- Immigration from EU to the UK;
- Impact on UK’s Economy;
- Visa Applications to the UK by EU Citizens.
Implications of Britain’s Exit from the EU
Preamble – Here it is important to note that the British Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50 on March 29, 2017, which paves the way for Britain to initiate the formal two (2) year exit process from the European Union.
Since British exit from the EU is a pretty complicated process, therefore, there are quite many questions, whose answer depends on the upcoming negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Accordingly, these negotiations will shape-up the major policy areas after British exit from EU.
BREXIT and the Great Repeal Bill
It is expected that major parts of the existing EU law will initially be wrapped into the UK Law under the Great Repeal Bill.
Accordingly, Britain will have the freedom to make its own policies on all the touchstone issues inclusive of immigration — which is frequently cited as the primary reason why British people voted to leave the European Union in the very first place.
Future of EU Nationals Already in Britain
The British PM and her senior cabinet colleagues have time and again refused to guarantee the right to remain in the UK to the three (3) million European Union nationals who are presently living in the United Kingdom.
The British Trade Minister Liam Fox has described Europen Union citizens residing in the UK as one of the UK government’s “main bargaining chips” in future negotiations with the EU. Moreover, the British PM Theresa May has stated that Britain would be left “high and dry” in the negotiations if Britain guarantees the rights of EU nationals living in the UK without a reciprocal assurance and arrangement for the United Kingdom nationals residing in the European Union.
Nevertheless, it is highly unlikely that British Government may undertake any deportation of EU citizens from the United Kingdom after Brexit.
Experts are of the opinion that the British PM intends to exclude EU nationals but only holding this issue back as a bargaining chip. However, this has not only gone down quite badly with the members of the EU, but EU residents living in the UK have also raised many concerns in this regard.
Although the chances of deporting current EU immigrants en masse are relatively low, therefore, the British Government is quite prepared to give concessions to the European Union. It does not make any good sense to say during Brexit negotiations, ‘Well British Government will not allow European Union Citizens to stay in the United Kingdom, as such statements would attract reciprocal sanctions on United Kingdom citizens living in the European Union.
Moreover, there is a minimal possibility that British Government would take a short, sharp, biting hard line about removing the rights of EU citizens to work in the United Kingdom.
Guaranteeing Residency Rights to EU Nationals
At this point in time, the question of when the British Government would be in the position to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK is quite difficult to answer. The main reasons for this inability are that at present neither the agenda for Brexit negotiations has been agreed, nor the UK and the EU have the same priorities.
Most of the EU countries want a guarantee of European Union residents’ rights in the United Kingdom first and wish to settle the issue as soon as possible. Moreover, they would also prefer to see any progress on the calculation that how much the UK will end up paying the EU on exit. Whereas the UK intends to prefer to get the idea of free trade settled first. Therefore, there is an inherent conflict even over the agenda i.e. which issue should first be resolved!
At the moment there is no credible information about the possible agenda for Brexit Negotiations, and that will not be fixed until Article 50 is triggered at the very earliest. Officials on both the sides may have plans ready, but these are not in the public domain. Therefore, at present, it is not plausible to say that how soon the issue is likely to be resolved.
Tourist Visiting UK from the European Union
According to a few experts and analysts, HM’s Home Office might be opting to propose electronic visa waiver scheme for EU citizens to make it easy for them to visit the UK. Such an arrangement will be quite similar to the United States electronic visa system which fast-tracks visitors from preferred countries.
Such an arrangement would facilitate tourism and EU citizens visiting the UK would be spending money in the UK’s Consumer Sector but would enable UK’s Government to impose restrictions on immigration of labour from the EU to the UK.
Immigration from EU to the UK
The British PM has vowed to end EU freedom of movement after the Brexit. The policy of Freedom of Movement allows EU citizens to move to, live in and work in European Union member states without required to apply for visas. It is one of the EU’s founding principles.
There are quite a few ideas that are being considered to replace freedom of movement after Brexit, and how to regulate the flow of workers from EU into the UK.
The first set of UK ministers who backed Remain tend to support as few restrictions as possible on EU migrants, workers, and people already resident in the European Union.
The second set of cabinet ministers is advocating a Free Movement Minus i.e. imposing minimal restrictions on free movement. The Free Movement Minus scenario would not only consist of a cap on EU migrant numbers but also an emergency break if HM’s Government will notice that too many EU migrants are coming to the UK.
The third set of ministers intends to altogether end freedom of movement.
The pro-Brexit ministers expect to end free movement between UK and EU and wish to introduce a work permit system for EU and non-EU citizens. Accordingly, the government would then decide how many European Union citizens it would allow into the United Kingdom every year for taking up a job offer — as the workers from EU would be required to have a job offer.
Britain’s cap on migrants from the European Union post-Brexit is going to fluctuate depending on the discretion of the government.
Impact on UK’s Economy
The government is considering a sectorial work permit system for incoming EU migrants. Such a measure means that EU labour migrants would be facing different rules depending on the sector they would be working in. Ministers propose to consult businesses and industry on this notion during the summer, and from limited available evidence the UK government looks quite set on favouring such an approach; however, implementation of the scheme could be very, very complicated.
Accordingly, the experts believe that the UK is set on a highly restrictive and complicated system that could be very difficult to implement.
Visa Applications to the UK by EU Citizens
There is one proposal at the moment that EU citizens should come through exactly the same work permit channels as non-EU citizens, but such an undertaking could be very costly to implement. Many economists are quite appalled at the thought that that would apply to incomers whether they were citizens of EU or not.
Some preferential deal might be cut for EU citizens during the Brexit negotiation process. Though Theresa May is likely to prefer a work permit system for all; however, there is a need to have some kind of concession for EU workers.