Lords debate report on UK-EU movement of people after Brexit

14 July 2017

On Monday 17 July, the House of Lords debates the Committee's report on the possible arrangements for migration of EU to the UK after the UK has left the EU and their likely implications.


The Prime Minister has said that "the message from the public before and during the referendum campaign was clear: Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe." In order to deliver this, the Government intends to put an end to the free movement of persons, one of the four freedoms underpinning the Single Market.

In view of the link between this issue and membership of – or access to – the Single Market, the precise manner in which the Government proposes to “end” free movement looks set to be a pivotal aspect of the United Kingdom’s approach to negotiations with the European Union. It could have far-reaching implications not only for the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU, but also for sectors of the UK economy—both public and private—that have come to rely on EU migrant labour, and for UK citizens whose current, reciprocal right to free movement within the EU is also set to end.

The Debate

The debate follows the publication of a report by the EU Home Affairs Committee which examines possible arrangements for migration of EU citizens to the UK after the UK has left the EU with a view to identifying the main choices available to the Government and their likely implications - including for UK citizens wishing to move to the EU in future. The report was published on the 6 March 2017.

The Committee's main conclusions included:

  • The Government says it will be pursuing a "two-way agreement" with the EU regarding future migration flows. We support this objective, and judge that offering preferential treatment to EU nationals compared to non-EU nationals in the UK's future immigration regime could increase the likelihood of securing reciprocal preferential treatment for UK nationals in the EU. It could also improve the prospects of achieving the UK's objectives on access to the Single Market. In view of the read-across to these other goals, we consider it vital that the Government should not close off policy options on future regulation of EU immigration ahead of negotiations with the EU-27.
  • The unanimous view of the public and private sector employers' groups from whom we took evidence was that the Government should not apply the UK's non-EU work permit system to EU nationals. They warned that this would disproportionately affect some employers' ability to sponsor EU workers, and could result in labour shortages
  • We recommend that the Government focuses on improving its evidence base before further entrenching the skills-based immigration policy that the UK already operates in respect of non-EU nationals.
  • The restoration of national control over EU migration may or may not deliver a reduction in overall net migration. We note that until June 2016, net migration to the UK from outside the EU was consistently higher than EU migration, even though the relevant policy levers are already under national control.

Speakers in the Debate

Other members of the House of Lords who are due to speak in the debate can be viewed on the Speakers' List.

Further information

Image credit: iStockphoto

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