The Brexit referendum has proven once more that emotions do have their role in politics and thus the force of populist messages such as “Take back control of our borders” appeal to human nature. If the economic fallout was almost instant and the political ramifications have been equally fast-moving, what will take far more time to sort out is what Brexit means for the migration policy both at the European Union and United Kingdom level. Now, since the divorce negotiations seem to be messier than predicted, immigration will be one of the big issues in this process. What is at stake?
The British Leave vote seems to be very polarized as the idea to limit immigration gained a lot of appeal, and the key signal to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see is that one: immigration must be better controlled.
In the short run, the most pressing question is that of the rights of EU nationals currently living in the UK, both right now and once the formal withdrawal from the Union occurs—a process that could take two years to complete, from the moment when the government triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
This question generates in turn two subsequent questions:
1) If the UK does not accept the principle of people’s free movement as a price to pay in order to gain free access to the single market, is the EU willing to offer it comprehensive access to the single market? and
2) How would the UK compete with the EU, if the UK restricts the free movement of persons? Would the British people accept an immigration policy based on a liberal view?
Another complicated issue is the border question – who will control what? What to do with the issue of Calais refugees?
In the long run, the most pressing questions are related to:
1) the role of migration in any EU negotiations? and
2) how would the British political elites reach a nationwide consensus on migration policies?
As for Romania any political statement so far has repeatedly underlined the need that any subsequent negotiations take into consideration the principle of people’s freedom of movement and securing the rights of Romanian workers in the UK. This red line has gained a wide political support and is supposed to be reaffirmed in any decisions concerning the Brexit.
However the support may vary in accordance with the replies to a series of questions:
1) what is the status of the EU nationals inside the UK at the moment of the Referendum?
2) the negotiations are estimated to last two years – in this time the UK must respect its EU obligations – if this is the case what will happen with the nationals arriving in the UK in this time framework? Would they also have a special status? How would the UK authorities react if they had a EU intra-migration spike?
* This article has been published for the first time in the special edition BREXIT Dossier of the EIR Newsletter no. 80, July 2016.
In strong connection to the latest developments generated by the referendum from Great Britain on whether to remain in the European Union or not, the European Institute of Romania draws the attention of its readers through a special edition of its trademark Newsletter.
This edition brings together the opinions of several Romanian and foreign experts on the political and economic landscape and implications that this process entails. The views expressed are related both to the current situation and also to the challenges the EU will have to face in the future, as a result of the vote given by the British citizens.
The full special edition of the EIR Newsletter is available online here.