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The implications of Brexit for migration

PACE's Committee on Migration has called upon the UK authorities, whether Brexit finally happens or not, “to undertake a thorough review of all aspects of migration policies” from entry to settlement through residence, in particular those rules which apply to skilled and unskilled workers, students and post-graduates, and to applicants for family reunion. The UK should also consider moving from a constitutive to a declaratory system of registration for the right of residence.

The United Kingdom’s decision to withdraw from the EU following the 2016 referendum has evident wide-ranging repercussions for the rights of millions of citizens across Europe, the committee said. The rights to employment, education and training, the right of residence, the right to family reunification, the right to hold a pension and the right to have access to voting rights and healthcare are all at stake. Whatever the final measures taken to implement Brexit, “the British authorities will need to ensure that EU nationals present in the United Kingdom who are eligible for settled status are given adequate time and resources to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain”, the committee underlined.

The draft resolution, based on the report prepared by Killion Munyama (Poland, EPP/CD), recalls that there is also much uncertainty concerning the rights of the 1.2 million Britons resident in EU countries, who will suddenly become third country nationals following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The Brexit debate would present an opportunity, according to parliamentarians, to "change the narrative" around migration and to illustrate the mutual benefits that immigration brings for both migrants themselves and the local community in the host state. EEA migrants alone pay £2 billion a year into the British tax system, for instance. The committee encouraged the United Kingdom to pursue this objective by making greater effort to counter negative discourse, “which has tended so far to be exacerbated by frustration and incomprehension facing the impasse in current negotiations and lack of progress in any clear direction”.