Britain benefits from free movement

Voters often cofree-movementnfuse internal and external EU migration, mistakenly assuming that a Brexit would better prevent non-EU nationals from ‘sneaking in’. Hugo Dixon, Chairman and Editor-in-chief of InFacts.org, thinks it won’t. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s second guest editor week on openDemocracy.

The Treaty of Rome, which set up the forerunner to the EU, enshrined what are known as the ‘four freedoms’: free movement of goods, services, capital and people. This is one of the most important charters for freedom the world has ever seen. In Britain, there is little controversy over the first three freedoms. But free movement of people is the subject of heated debate. If Britain ultimately votes to quit the EU, a desire to curb immigration will probably be the main reason.

Continue reading

There’s no love for the EU or immigration, but voters must ask ‘what are the alternatives?’

Free movotersvement is part and parcel of continued access to European markets. Stephen Booth, co-director of Open Europe asks if it is worth sacrificing the latter to reduce the former? This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s second guest editor week on openDemocracy.

Given the recent political history of immigration in Britain, is it surprising that the issue now tops the political agenda and that public trust in politicians on this issue is so low? Throughout the 2000s, with looser policies on non-EU migration and EU enlargement to eastern Europe taking effect, net immigration to the UK increased from the tens of thousands to well over 200,000 a year. According to Ipsos-Mori’s issues tracker, just 10% of the British electorate considered immigration to be the most important issue facing the country in the late 1990s. By the mid-2000s, the share of people saying it was the most important issue steadily increased to 40%, and by May 2015 it reached 50%.

Continue reading

A confident UK has nothing to fear from free movement of labour

B-E-Confident-UK

Migration brings net gains to the UK, and to hamper it would likely be as bad for British nationals as it would be for EU migrants, contends Ian Preston, UCL Professor of Economics and Deputy Research Director of the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM). This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s second guest editor week on openDemocracy.

Freedom of movement is at the core of arguments over Brexit. Not everyone in favour of Brexit is against free movement but polling evidence suggests that concern about immigration is strongly linked to support for EU withdrawal. Among the most common reasons given for voting Leave is the suggestion that it will restore British control over labour migration from European sources. By removing the country from the obligation to honour free movement of workers, it is suggested, it will make it possible to selectively and advantageously discourage immigration of less attractive sorts of workers.

Continue reading