The UK Government is considering giving two-year visas to young Europeans (under 30) which would allow them to live in the UK for two years after Brexit happens in 2019.
Research published last month by the Migration Advisory Commission, an independent body, has examined the potential economic impact of ending freedom of movement. The evidence suggests that the UK would benefit from giving younger Europeans post-Brexit visas, as they are more likely to pay more into the tax system than they are to take from it. This echoes the concerns of business leaders who have warned of the negative effect of tightening UK borders.
The report stated: “There are several reasons for issuing two-year UK visas to younger EU migrants - they have a longer working life ahead of them, so have a higher chance of making a net positive contribution to the public finances, and they are perhaps considered to integrate more successfully.”
An immigration point system similar to Australia after Brexit?
UK immigration is an issue which was at the heart of the Brexit debate and continues to be central to the ongoing negotiations between Westminster and Brussels. The recent proposal would leave the UK with a point system which is similar to that of other countries, such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
Points would be given depending on the salary, skills, and age of the applicant. The report also states that regional salary variations should be taken into consideration, due to the huge differences in incomes between different parts of the country.
The proposed point system is likely to favor immigrants who have a skill which is in demand. The report says: “The economic literature suggests that migrants are more likely to have beneficial economic effects when they have different skills from the resident population.”
This would see a reduction in the number of low-skilled workers being allowed into the UK. The report, however, suggests that the results of this would be mixed: “A reduction in the supply of low-skilled migrants might push up wages and costs to businesses, which could translate into higher prices for consumers. On the other hand, a reduction of fairly cheap low-skilled migrants could force businesses to substitute labor for capital, boosting productivity.”
Seasonal worker schemes are also mentioned given that the demand for labor in certain industries only exists at certain times of the year. It states that “a large amount of labor will be needed in a particular place for a shorter duration of time.”
Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary said: “The government will want to ensure that decisions on the long-term arrangements are based on evidence. The commission that we’ve asked the Migration Advisory Committee to undertake is very much part of this.”
However, this would not be the first time that such a system has been proposed and rejected. In addition, despite the looming deadline of March 2019, Brexit negotiations are far from being completed. Untangling and rewriting 44 years of legislation is incredibly complex and this is exacerbated by issues, which are central to any potential deal, which both sides cannot see eye-to-eye on.
The UK is hoping to maintain free trade and tighten its borders while making no budget contributions. It is hard to imagine the EU agreeing to this as they have continually stated that there would be no “cherry picking”.
Therefore, all current proposals need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Both sides will want to reach an agreement before the ‘cliff edge’approaches, meaning that at least one party will have to budge on these central issues.