UK should not favour EU workers after Brexit, report says

Independent report says British government should favour high-skilled workers over low-skilled ones after Brexit.

Brexit parliament
EU nationals can currently live and work freely in the UK [Henry Nicholls/Reuters]

The British government said it will “carefully consider” a report on post-Brexit immigration that recommended the UK not give preferential treatment to citizens from the European Union.

The report by the Migration Advisory Committee, an independent advisory body, also urged the government to make it easier for highly skilled workers to migrate to the UK than those with lower skill sets after Brexit.

EU nationals can currently live and work freely in the UK but that is likely to end next year when Britain is scheduled to exit the bloc.

Concerns about immigration were a strong motivating factor in the 2016 Brexit vote and British Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to prevent freedom of movement from the EU once Britain leaves.

Commissioned by the government and published on Tuesday, the report concluded that free movement from the EU should end after Brexit.

“We do not see compelling reasons to offer a different set of rules to EEA (European Economic Area) and non-EEA citizens unless the UK wishes to use migration in negotiations,” the report said.

However, it also noted the UK may not have complete freedom to determine its migration policy after it leaves the EU, as the policy would likely be subject to the wider exit negotiations between the UK and the EU.

In those negotiations, the EU is likely to seek preferential access to the UK labour market for EU nationals, while Britain is thought to be aiming for a close trading relationship with the bloc.

Future system

The report found freedom of movement has made a small impact on wages and employment in the UK, and rising prices caused by the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote likely had a greater impact on Britons.

“We will carefully consider the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendations before setting out further detail on the UK’s future immigration system,” a spokesperson for the British interior ministry said on Tuesday.

“The government is clear that EU citizens play an important and positive role in our economy and society and we want that to continue after we leave.”

Britain is due to exit the EU in late March 2019, although the terms of the withdrawal have yet to be agreed.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies