Scottish government fights for rights of EU expat workers

Published:  7 Feb at 6 PM
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A study on the economic benefits of migration undertaken by a Scottish parliamentary cross-party committee has determined young migrants are essential for expanding both Scotland’s work force and its population.

The committee’s report has backed Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s stance on immigration, which contrasts with the UK government’s anti-immigration position as part of Brexit. In the referendum, Scots voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union, citing the fact that EU membership has been an important spur for the country’s economy and its population totals.

For decades, the population decline north of the border was a major concern for Scottish lawmakers. However, in recent years the decline has been reversed due to a high number of younger EU citizens using the union’s freedom of movement to migrate and settle in the country. According to a spokesperson for the committee, leaving the EU would mean migrants’ rights to remain were cancelled as well as severely affecting future immigration. EU immigrants, the spokesperson added, are essential as regards Scotland’s continuing economic success.

A Reuters report also stressed the committee’s concern over the loss of the single market, citing free trade with Europe as a major part of the country’s export sector. The committee believes a separate, bespoke deal with the EU is the only solution for the country, with discussions between the Scottish and British governments the only way forward. It’s widely believed that, should proving a special case for Scotland fail, the result would be another, possibly successful secession vote.

For now, pro-independence politicians are seeking a separate agreement on the two points. Their arguments rest on the fact that Scotland’s economy and its need for immigration puts it in a very different position than the rest of the UK. Although Theresa May has promised she would work on a unified Brexit negotiating strategy with the three devolved British regions of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, she is still committed to ending membership of the single market and controlling the UK’s borders. At present, EU expats living and working north of the border are in the same uncomfortable position as their counterparts in London and the rest of the UK.
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