Immigration, free movement and the EU referendum

Publication date: 10 May 2016 | Publication type: National Institute Economic Review | Theme: Exiting the EU & Britain after Brexit | JEL Classification: F22, J61, N34 | Journal: National Institute Economic Review Issue 236 | Pages: 14-22 | Publisher: Sage Publications, London

Immigration and free movement are central issues in the UK’s referendum on EU membership. Although free movement was a founding principle of the EU, it only became of central economic and political importance after the expansion of the EU eastward in 2004. For the UK, the economic impacts of recent EU migration appear to have been relatively benign, even for the low paid and low skilled. The UK’s recent ‘renegotiation’, which focused on the largely irrelevant issue of ‘benefit tourism’, will make little difference. A vote to Leave, however, will potentially take us into new territory for UK immigration policy.

Keyword tags: 
free movement
European Union