Honeypot Britain: do EU nationals come to the UK for benefits?

20271175720_875bb8c005_zThe image of the benefits-scrounging migrant is potent, but there is no evidence that this is widespread, say Catherine Barnard, Professor in EU and employment law at the University of Cambridge, and Amy Ludlow, College Lecturer and Affiliated Faculty Lecturer at the University of Cambridge. Migrants come to work and make lives, not to get a free ride. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy.

The rhetoric is familiar: “Tax credits ‘turned UK into a honeypot for EU immigrants’: worker on minimum wage could receive additional £330 a week”, as one Daily Mail headline read.

The drip, drip of negative press about EU migrants and benefits has pushed the issue to the top of the political agenda. In his November 2015 speech, which set out what he would like from ‘Brussels’ in the renegotiation, the British prime minister David Cameron made it clear that he wanted to “tackle abuses of the right to free movement, and enable us to control migration from the European Union, in line with our manifesto”. Continue reading

Unsettling times for a settled population? Polish perspectives on Brexit

sky-blue-flag-polandMany Poles have lived, worked, and settled in the UK for up to 12 years now. Anne White, Professor of Polish Studies at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, says it’s no longer so easy for them to pick up and leave. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy.

When I was asked to write a piece about Poles and other EU citizens living in the UK and their perspectives on Brexit, my first thought was that Polish people in the UK are little different from the millions of UK citizens living or travelling to work in other EU countries, or from French, German and other western Europeans living in Britain. All have equal reason to feel horrified by the prospect of Brexit. Continue reading

Migration: it’s why the British people will vote for Brexit

6100540512_c79af9bf90_zSteven Woolfe, UKIP Member of the European Parliament, argues that uncontrolled EU migration costs Britain financially and increases the strain on public services, resulting in a lower quality of life for many Britons and a less generous nation. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy.

Migration is a critical issue in the UK’s EU referendum debate. We’ve seen poll after poll which shows that it rates top in voters’ current concerns. The European Union has ignored these concerns year after year, and the result has been larger numbers of people who want to take back control of UK borders and move to a fairer, non-discriminatory immigration policy unlike the one we see currently being forced upon the UK by EU treaties.

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Brexit Divisions II: the mother of all migration debates

Screenshot 2016-03-23 09.23.19Migration will play a central role in the June EU referendum. The UCL European Institute’s Uta Staiger and Claudia Sternberg explore which arguments, facts, and strategies the campaigns will deploy to swing the vote in their favour. This article gives an overview of our second guest editor week on the topic on openDemocracy.

Migration has emerged as perhaps the most prominent – and certainly challenging – issue for both the In and Out campaigns on British EU membership. Continue reading

The EU deal – what does it mean for immigration and benefits?

suitcasesJonathan Portes, Principal Research Fellow at NIESR, and a Senior Fellow of UK in a Changing Europe, takes a closer look at David Cameron’s EU deal, and asks what impact it may have on immigration to the UK, free movement of EU citizens, and the contested issue of access to in work benefits in the UK.

The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, wrote on 2 February to the members of the Council (EU Heads of Government) setting out his proposals for a “new settlement for the UK within the European Union”. What does the proposal mean for free movement of workers in the EU, immigration to the UK, and our in-work benefit system? My very quick (apologies in advance for any inaccuracies or oversimplifications) are as follows. Continue reading