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

Five minutes with Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol: “The UK already opts out of anything it dislikes; it could very well end up leaving the EU on an entirely flawed debate”

numbers-time-watch-whiteIn an interview with UCL’s Claudia Sternberg, Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol, Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Fellow at the University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith Business School, discusses today’s EU referendum from the perspective of the last 50 years of the UK’s presence in EU.

In what ways is today’s EU referendum different from the June 1975 precedent?

The difference is that in 1974 the actual renegotiations started fairly quickly after British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s re-election: he had tabled early on what he wanted to renegotiate. Today, we just know the fairly vague wish-list that David Cameron drew up. How this can materialise into a genuine ‘renegotiation’ process with all other EU member states is still a mystery today. Continue reading

Neglected issues in the EU Referendum Bill

Credit: Quinn DombrowskiProfessor Richard Rose, Director of the Centre for the Study of Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde, explores unresolved issues in relation to the EU referendum bill, including voting thresholds and prospective timelines of reform and EU negotiations.

 

Will there be a turnout threshold making the referendum decisive?

At the UK’s 2014 European Parliament (EP) election turnout was 35.6 percent and at the 2015 British general election it was 66.2 percent.

Turnout at EU referendums across Europe normally falls between an EP and a national election. This implies a likely UK turnout of around 51 percent. If this occurred, the referendum majority would be little more than one-quarter of the British electorate.

On issues of constitutional importance most democratic countries introduce special requirements to secure broader commitment. In the 1979 referendum on devolution to Scotland endorsement by 40 percent of the registered electorate was required to secure approval. Although a majority approved on a turnout of 63 percent, devolution failed since less than a third of the Scottish electorate approved the Act. Continue reading

Not in front of the MPs: Why can’t Parliament have a frank discussion about the EU?

Collier's_1921_Vol_7_Frontispiece_--_Parliament_Buildings,_LondonIn this post, Agata Gostyńska, research fellow at the Centre for European Reform, explains how Britain’s Parliament does a poor job of examining EU business—and proposes some simple reforms that would improve the way that it scrutinises European legislation.

The British prime minister, David Cameron, wants to make the EU more democratic. National parliamentarians, in his view, understand citizens’ concerns better than MEPs who deliberate in far-away Brussels and Strasbourg; national parliaments should therefore play a greater role in EU decision-making. However, Cameron’s argument would carry more weight if UK parliamentary scrutiny were improved. Continue reading

The case for an EU referendum

Christopher Bickerton, lecturer in Politics at the University of Cambridge, discusses how how the impending EU referendum in the UK necessitates open and unbiased academic debate, and how British discussions of EU reform may reverberate across the European continent.

When the results of the British election were known, those studying the EU may have allowed themselves a quiet and discrete fist pump. David Cameron and the Conservative Party have made such firm assurances about organizing a referendum on EU membership that to renege on this promise is almost unimaginable. A referendum will take place, putting the EU at the heart of British political debate at least for the next couple of years and providing plenty of opportunities for the entrepreneurial EU studies researcher.

More generally though, responses to the forthcoming referendum have revealed some of the biases that exist amongst those studying the EU. Unsurprisingly, as with many other fields of inquiry, those who study the EU tend often to think it is a rather good thing. A referendum on British membership has therefore been perceived as an unwelcome event, more a threat than an opportunity. Attitudes range from the fearful to the reluctant.

Continue reading