The end of free movement by westkinassociates @5th Floor Maddox House, 1 Maddox Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 2PZ
With Britain finally having withdrawn from the European Union, it is an important time to reflect on
the legacy of our Union and in particular the history of free movement across Europe.
When did free movement begin?
Contrary to a popular misconception, freedom of movement did not begin when Britain joined the
EU in 1973 but instead in 1992, with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. Britain joined a number of
different EU countries in this agreement which would enshrine closer EU integration and permit EU
citizens the right to move, live in and work in any member state they wished to.
As a result of this agreement, tens of thousands of EU migrants came across the decades, leading to
a current population of approximately 3 million EU nationals residing in the UK. It also permitted
tens of thousands of British expats to travel and work across the EU as well as university students
who were easily able to spend terms at a variety of different universities.
What have EU migrants done for the UK?
Whilst politicians have been eager to provoke scaremongering rhetoric of the European bogeyman;
who is simultaneously stealing all the jobs and laying in a council estate claiming benefits; the reality
is quite different.
Across the average EU migrant’s lifetime, it was found that they contribute approximately £78,000
to the British economy. This is £2,300 more per year than the average UK-born adult.
When the MAC reviewed the matter, they also found that EU migrants contribute more in taxation
than they gained from social services and had little to no impact on job opportunities as well as no
negative impact on school places.
EU migrants have been vital in the running of the economy with approximately a third of the food
production workforce in the UK being EU nationals. They’ve also played a vital role in the social care
industry, both of which face real risks now that freedom of movement will end at the end of the
transition period, 31st December 2020.
The dilemma facing EU nationals
EU migrants in the UK face a real dilemma with the end of free movement as they will be subject to
the same immigration controls as their non-EU counterparts. It is therefore imperative that those in
the UK apply for settled status. The deadline for applying for settled status is the 30th June 2021, but
EU migrants must have secure leave from when the new immigration system will take place, i.e. 1st