Brexit & Global Mobility: Free Movement

The historic Brexit vote has had wide reaching ramifications documented in media outlets across the globe. From the crash of the pound to its worst value since 1985 to a domino effect of resigning from UK MPs, it’s been a time of uncertainty for all aspects of life. But what does Brexit mean for global mobility, particularly for the free movement of UK citizens through Europe? 

As a part of the EU, UK citizens currently have the right to travel and move freely within the territory of other member states, including for work, study and to eventually reside. Similarly, they also enjoy rights relating to matters such as equal pay for equal work in any of these member states. While member states still retain relative control in matters such as social security, they are mandated to provide necessary healthcare as well as high safety standards. With Brexit, these benefits are all now uncertain… 

Yet, Brexit won’t just affect whether people are freely allowed to move in the future to work in an EU country. There has to be consideration about those people who are already based in the EU. Will there be a grace period granted to these people affected? Will the existing tax treaties and social security agreements still stand or do we face some strict renegotiation? 

Freedom of movement has allowed our economy and the businesses situated within it to grow and flourish rapidly as they bring in a bigger pool of candidates. Some might have suggested, as many Leave campaigners did, that new programs might be put in place to enhance training and expand the skill base of UK workers, but the reality is that this hasn’t been initiated. The Leave campaign made promises they couldn’t keep, and now it’s down to UK businesses and global mobility specialists to pick up the pieces. 

While we might not be able to know exactly how this situation will unfold, we at least have a decision from which we can form contingency plans. If businesses are prepared for any eventuality, they should be able to continue to thrive and expand. Brexit could lead to further opportunities, perhaps in different countries outside of the EU. Countries like Switzerland and Norway have maintained competitiveness as non-members, and there is discussion of changing the Tier 2 UKVI to encourage top talent from non-EU countries such as the US, Canada and around Asia. 

Brexit could be an amazing opportunity for Global Mobility specialists to demonstrate their talents and capabilities as well as the value of their discipline. Global mobility experts, and the proximity they have to those directly affected by the Brexit decision, are in the optimum position to both maintain encouragement and engagement with those currently in the EU and to enable business leaders make the correct long-term strategic decisions. 

Posted in categories: Expats, International