Brexit: movement of people in the cultural sector Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

Free movement and the Brexit negotiations

1.Following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, the Government has stated its intention to end the free movement of persons between the UK and EU, thereby “taking back control of the UK’s borders”.1 In its most recent pronouncement on free movement, contained in the White Paper published on 12 July 2018, The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, the Government lays out broad principles for the future relationship negotiations, but gives little detail on what future migration arrangements might look like (see Box 1).

Box 1: The future relationship White Paper and free movement

The White Paper’s main provisions on free movement appear in Chapter 1, extracts of which are given below.

“1.4.1 Ending free movement of people

“Free movement of people will end as the UK leaves the EU. The Immigration Bill will bring EU migration under UK law, enabling the UK to set out its future immigration system in domestic legislation … Further details of the UK’s future immigration system will be set out in due course.

“The UK’s future immigration arrangements will set out how those from the EU and elsewhere can apply to come and work in the UK.”

“1.4.2 Future mobility arrangement

“Any future mobility arrangements will be consistent with the ending of free movement, respecting the UK’s control of its borders and the Government’s objective to control and reduce net migration … Given the depth of the relationship and close ties between the peoples of the UK and the EU, the UK will make a sovereign choice in a defined number of areas to seek reciprocal mobility arrangements with the EU.

“The UK’s future economic partnership should therefore provide reciprocal arrangements, consistent with the ending of free movement, that: a) support businesses to provide services and to move their talented people [and] b) allow citizens to travel freely, without a visa, for tourism and temporary business activity.”

Source: HM Government, The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, Cm 9593, July 2018: [accessed 18 July 2018]

2.A new Immigration Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech of 21 June 2017,2 one of a series of ‘Brexit Bills’ that will provide the legal foundations for the future UK-EU relationship.3 The Government also intends to publish a White Paper on immigration. On 28 March 2018, the then Home Secretary, Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, told the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee that she expected the White Paper to appear “at the end of this year”, followed by an Immigration Bill “at the start of next year”.4

3.On 28 February 2018 the European Commission published a draft Withdrawal Agreement under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, setting out the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU. Further iterations of the Agreement were published on 15 and 19 March, and all references below are to the 19 March text.5 During the transition period provided for in this Agreement, the UK will remain subject to EU law (Part 4).

4.The UK will thus continue to participate in the free movement of persons for the duration of the transition period, from 29 March 2019 to 31 December 2020. Any new immigration arrangements for EU citizens that come into force under the Immigration Bill will apply from the end of the transition period.

5.The Home Office has also commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to report on “the current and likely future patterns of [European Economic Area] EEA migration and the impacts of that migration on the UK”, in order to build an evidence base for developing post-Brexit immigration arrangements for non-UK EEA citizens. The MAC published an interim report in March, identifying some emerging themes. According to the Foreword written by the MAC Chair, Professor Alan Manning, UK employers were concerned “about the prospects of future restrictions on EEA migration”. The final report is due in September.6

6.When giving evidence to this Committee in January 2017 as part of our earlier inquiry, Brexit: UK-EU movement of people, the then Minister of State for Immigration, the Rt Hon Robert Goodwill MP, told us:

“Whatever agreement we have with the European Union will be a two-way agreement. It will apply to EU citizens wishing to come and work here, and there will be a parallel negotiation about British people who want to live, work or study in the European Union.”7

Without an Immigration Bill, however, the precise rules that will apply to the future movement of people from the EU to the UK are unclear.

7.The EU also has wide-ranging plans for a future agreement in this area. In its negotiating guidelines published on 23 March 2018, the European Council called for “ambitious provisions on movement of natural persons, based on full reciprocity and non-discrimination among Member States”.8

What this report is about

8.This short report builds on our report on Brexit: UK-EU movement of people,9 and considers the implications for the cultural sector of some of the possible changes to free movement that we outlined there. In that report we supported an objective for the Government to “pursue preferential arrangements for UK-EU migration after the UK has ceased to be a member of the EU”.10 We continue to support this objective, though we note that, notwithstanding the recently published White Paper’s commitment to reciprocity in the negotiations on free movement (see Box 1), the Government is yet to make any concrete proposals in this direction.

9.We chose to investigate free movement in the cultural sector because of its prominent contribution to the UK’s economy; because of the level of public interest in culture; and because, as our evidence confirmed, free movement between the UK, the EU, and vice versa, is crucial to the sector.11 We demonstrate that the cultural sector also plays a significant role in promoting the UK abroad, which will arguably be even more important post-Brexit.

10.We heard an over-riding concern from witnesses to this inquiry. They worried that instead of receiving preferential treatment, future EU migrants to the UK working in the cultural sector might fall under the same immigration provisions as non-EU citizens—a prospect that we also delineated in our previous report.12 The White Paper proposes a “cooperative accord” between the UK and EU, to facilitate cooperation in “culture and education”, as well as in other areas. It concludes: “The UK and the EU will … need provisions that allow for mobility in relation to these accords, for example enabling … musicians to perform at concerts.”13 We have heard no further detail from the Government about this proposal, which we briefly consider below.

11.In the absence of such detail, while we have not recommended any specific post-Brexit migration model, we have analysed the consequences for the culture sector should EU27 citizens be subject to the same immigration rules as currently apply to those from outside the EU. We make some suggestions about aspects of the existing system that the Government should prioritise in order to limit any damage to the sector. We consider how the sector will fare should workers be permitted to enter the UK only if they have a prior job offer, and whether existing provisions for short-term workers from outside the EU might benefit culture in any way.

12.Our principal focus is on the UK Government’s options as it designs a new post-Brexit immigration system, but we also consider evidence about the need for UK workers to travel easily to the EU after transition. Our analysis of the sector concludes with a call for reciprocity in the negotiations over the future immigration arrangements. Agreement on reciprocal principles would, we believe, be the best foundation for a workable future migration compact.

13.The report considers future flows of EU citizens to the UK (and vice versa) in the field of culture. It does not consider EU citizens currently resident in the UK, or UK citizens resident in the EU, whose ‘acquired rights’ formed the subject of a separate inquiry by this Committee, and are addressed in detail in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.14 Nor does it consider future arrangements for third country nationals, asylum seekers, or refugees arriving from the EU.

14.Our analysis is based on an oral evidence session, as well as written evidence submitted by a range of organisations before the end of May 2018. We also took evidence on the implications of Brexit for the sports sector. Our conclusions and questions on that sector are set out in a letter to the Government, which will be published online.

15.We make this report to the House for debate.

1 HM Government, The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, Cm 9593, July 2018, pp 1–2: [accessed 18 July 2018]

2 Cabinet Office, ‘Queen’s Speech 2017’: [accessed 19 July 2018]

3 Where the term “post-Brexit” is used below, it refers to the immigration arrangements that the UK and EU will introduce after the Brexit transition period. As we note in paragraph 4, the UK will continue to apply the free movement of persons from the EU and EEA during transition.

4 Oral evidence taken before the Home Affairs Committee, 28 March 2018 (Session 2017–19), Q 209 & Q 232 (Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, Home Secretary)

5 European Commission, Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (19 March 2018): [accessed 19 July 2018]

6 Migration Advisory Committee, EEA-workers in the UK labour market: interim update, (27 March 2018): [accessed 18 July 2018]

7 Oral evidence taken on 11 January 2017 (Session 2016–17), Q 73 (Robert Goodwill MP)

8 European Council, European Council (Art. 50) (23 March 2018)—Guidelines: [accessed 20 July 2018]

9 European Union Committee, Brexit: UK-EU movement of people (14th Report, Session 2016–17, HL Paper 121)

10 Ibid., para 78

11 Oral evidence taken before the Home Affairs Committee, 28 March 2018 (Session 2017–19), Q 221 & Q 223 (Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP). Ending free movement from the EU is one of a number of issues that could affect the cultural sector post-Brexit. The House of Lords European Union Committee considered broader issues affecting trade in digital and creative services in its report, Brexit: trade in non-financial services (18th Report, Session 2016–17, HL Paper 135)

12 European Union Committee, Brexit: UK-EU movement of people (14th Report, Session 2016–17, HL Paper 121) paras 79, 165 and 169

13 HM Government, The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union, Cm 9593, July 2018, para 25, p.77: [accessed 19 July 2018]

© Parliamentary copyright 2018