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Brexit – A Blessing or Curse on British Workers?

Posted by: Jemma Puzey
22/06/2017

With Brexit negotiations starting this week we take a look at the possible impacts that this may have on British workers.

For decades people have been able to enjoy the freedom of Europe, able to work anywhere within the 28 countries of the EU whilst having the same rights as the nationals of the country that they are working in.

But how could all of that change when Britain leaves the European Union for good?

Here’s a look at the consensus:
Many Brits fear that leaving the European Union will make it much more difficult for them to work in Europe. Freedom of movement across the EU currently means that Brits have greater options when it comes to jobs, having no restrictions when it comes to working in Europe. But after Brexit, this could drastically change meaning that people may need a visa in order to work within other EU countries.

Roland Smith, an associate at the Adam Smith Institute (one of the world's leading think tanks), believes that the only possible option after Brexit would be to join the European Economic Area (EEA). This would mean upholding the single market, and keeping the free movement of goods, services, capital and of course, people between member states.

Heavyweights from the leave campaign, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, share a different view to Roland Smith and are both adamant that Britain would be better off outside of the single market and do not agree that joining the EEA would benefit Britain.

After rejecting EU membership in 1994, Norway still remained part of the EEA. However in order to to do this, Norway still has to pay into the EU and is currently the 10th biggest contributor to the budget, but with no say in any decision making in Brussels, and yet still has to abide by EEA policies. This option would not appeal to many Brexit supporters who are longing for greater independence.

If Britain decides to leave the single market, it’s possible that the UK could make mutual and individual agreements with EU member states, which could then include the free movement of persons. Although some find it hard to believe that this would be guaranteed if Britain chose this route.

It has been rumoured that highly skilled British people could work in the European Union after Brexit under an expanded visa scheme called the “Blue Card” and would be similar to America’s green card programme. The blue card scheme was implemented by the EU in 2009 and currently applies to 25 out of the 28 EU member states. The scheme has had little success but the EU hopes to revive the scheme.

Migration Watch has stated that this scheme is “far from complete” adding that applicants for the scheme are required to hold a work contract of at least one year and a salary of at least one and a half times the average gross annual salary paid in the member state that they wish to live in.

Prime Minister Theresa May has stated that there was “willingness and intent” from both the EU and the UK to secure a deal and there was a good process in place for negotiations. What this shows is that change is imminent, whatever that change may be.

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