free movement

Immigration after Brexit

This paper examines the short and long-term impacts of the UK referendum on migration flows and migration policy. Even in the short term – before any policy change – the vote will affect migration flows directly and indirectly through both economic and other channels. Post Brexit, two key issues will need to be addressed. Will the UK preserve a substantial measure of preference for EU citizens in any new system? And will policy tilt in a liberal or restrictive direction?

Free movement of services, migration and leaving the EU

For many people the key question in the referendum is whether a vote to leave will enable the UK to take back control of its borders. So for them the focus is primarily on Article 45 on the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) which allows free movement of workers. But for individuals much movement to other EU Member States is covered by Article 56 TFEU on the free movement of services.

Immigration, free movement and the EU referendum

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.