United Kingdom: Migration think tank publishes model Brexit deal
British Futures, a nonpartisan, nonpolitical think tank focused on migration and integration issues, has released a report, “Britain’s Immigration Offer to Europe,” which outlines a potential way forward for Brexit negotiators looking to secure access to the European single market without committing to full free movement of people. The report recognizes that the debate has so far focused on either free movement or a “hard Brexit” as mutually exclusive options, but offers a compromise position in which the British public sees more tangible control of migration, and particularly of low-skilled migration, while the remaining 27 EU member states are given sufficient preferential treatment to secure their support.
You can read the full report here.
The report proposes that the U.K. government:
- Offer the EU27 a preferential system that is less than free movement but represents a “friend and family deal” with Europe
- Propose a three-tiered EU system:
- A global talent route for “brightest and best” (which could include scientists, NHS professionals, IT specialists, and even post-study graduates, although no detail for this framework is available).
- Free movement for EU skilled workers, assessed potentially by salary but preferably by skill level as set by SOC codes used for current Tier 2 workers from outside Europe.
- Sector-based quotas for low- and semi-skilled roles in industries such as agriculture/horticulture, food processing and hospitality.
- End the free movement of low-skilled EU migrants, outside of specific sectors and without specific employment.
- Maintain visa-free travel on a reciprocal basis to protect the “feel” of free movement for EU migrants and ensure that the U.K. is not burdened with additional visa obligations in return.
- Use a points-based system or alternative system for all other migration, such that the U.K. would continue to operate a dual system for migration, but under U.K. sovereign control (rather than subject to EU law).
BAL Analysis: BAL considers the proposals to be well-informed, reasonable, fair and business-friendly, yet it is sufficiently inclusive that it would not necessarily cut overall migrant numbers to the degree that the government and pro-Brexit voters seek, and to that extent may still not be politically viable. The report does not deal with the trickier issues of students, self-sufficient individuals, the self-employed, family or derivative rights, and assumes that those already in the U.K. will be protected with a “fair deal,” and thus only addresses part of the larger EU migration picture post-Brexit. BAL recognizes the difficulty for U.K. and global employers operating in an environment of legal uncertainty post -referendum and welcomes comments from the business community that contribute to the policy debate.
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