Movement control: a blueprint for free movement that works for Britain

migration

Report

posted on 20th November 2018

Foreword: Andrew Adonis

I am the son of a migrant and a lifelong supporter of the benefits that immigration brings; to our economy, to our culture and to our society. But over the last six months I have been on a fact-finding tour, visiting every one of the hundred ‘most Leave’ constituencies in the U.K. I wanted to understand why so many people had voted to leave the EU, what had driven their undeniable anger and what we could do about it without trashing our jobs and our future with a disastrous Hard Brexit.

Immigration came up time and again in my public meetings and in my conversations with local councillors, activists and with Leave voters. And I saw the impact that immigration had too, the negative side that policy-makers who focus on the macro can sometimes miss. Schools and local infrastructure suffering under the strain of massive new demand that went uncompensated for in public spending. Sudden shifts in demographics that went unexplained and to which some communities felt they had never consented.

The good that immigration does is undeniable and clearly evidenced. The bad that mismanaged migration can do is real and is part of the reason for this country’s Brexit vote.

But the British people deserve a better answer to their concerns than the preposterous false panacea that is Brexit. The labour markets that depend on migration to thrive – in farming, social care, the NHS and our construction industry – will not better serve our people and our economy if they find it harder to recruit talent from Europe. And if the U.K. is to sign ‘global trade deals’ with countries such as India then – as has been made clear – a fresh freedom of movement may well be the price we pay, but this time with countries which are further away and whose economies are even more out of kilter with our own than are those of Eastern Europe. Brexit will not restore this country’s sense of control over immigration but it may well damage our businesses and our public services along the way.

How, then, to square the circle? How do we take back control whilst avoiding the damage to our economy that Brexit will certainly do? The Remain side in the coming People’s Vote – the final battle on Brexit which, partly as a result on Parliamentary stalemate, looks ever more likely – must have an answer to this question. Without it, we cannot answer the concerns of Leave voters in order to persuade them to protect our economy and our public services.

That is why this report is so timely and so useful. Detailed here is what our partners across Europe already do to control immigration from inside the EU.

There is so much here that we can learn from.

We need, urgently, an advanced Electronic ID Cards scheme, as is commonplace in Europe, so that we know who is here, what entitlements they have and crucially what entitlements they don’t have. This would enable us to monitor who is working, too, so that like other European countries we can ask EU citizens who have been here for 3 months without finding work to leave.

EU migrants are estimated to bring a £4 billion dividend in annual benefits to our country – but those benefits are too often not seen in the communities most impacted by migration. We should act to hypothecate at least half of that dividend to invest in a new Strengthening Communities Fund – investing £2 billion in the public services and infrastructure that has suffered because of new demand. This would give communities a better, fairer share of the benefits created by the migration that they absorb.

Finally, we should follow Switzerland in delivering both proper enforcement of the Minimum Wage – to prevent unregulated migration forcing wages down illegally – and in obliging employers within occupations or areas where unemployment is above average to give local residents priority before recruiting from overseas. This will help us to show voters that migration for economic reasons is a skills safety valve, rather than the preference of lazy or prejudiced employers who don’t want to train British people.

These policies are practical, actionable solutions to immigration that are already being deployed across Europe. They are proof positive that the choice between EU membership and controlling migration is a false one. We can – to coin a phrase – have our cake and eat it. To me, that sounds like the aspiration of any truly patriotic British policy maker – to square the circle and give employers the skills they need whilst arming communities with the control they deserve.

I expect that I, and colleagues across the parties who will argue passionately for Remain when the People’s Vote comes, will be turning to this report to give the answers on immigration that communities rightly demand. And I believe strongly that a package of the measures outlined here will help to persuade voters that the best way to take back control is to stay in the EU and get serious about immigration and welfare enforcement. We can have our cake and eat it – so let’s do that instead of trashing our economy on the basis of a whole false choice.

Executive Summary

Immigration has been good for the UK. People coming here from other parts of the world have used their skills and labour to build successful businesses, create jobs and keep our public services going. Freedom of movement between the UK and the EU has made us better off. EEA migrants contributed a net £2,300 per head more to the UK’s public finances in 2016/17 than the average adult, and make a net lifetime contribution to the UK’s public finances of £78,000 per person.

The benefits of immigration are not just economic; they are social and cultural as well. They exist not just in the millions of people who have found love and friendship, and started families, as a direct result of crossing borders, or in the millions more who would not have been born at all without immigration into the UK. They can be found, too, in contemporary British culture, art, music, sport, food – the things that help make life worthwhile. All of these have been influenced and transformed for the better by people who have come to the UK from overseas and made their lives here.

In addition millions of us have benefited from our right to the free movement of persons, from the ease of travelling around the continent that we all enjoy to the right to live and work in mainland Europe – currently exercised by 1.3 million Brits, the fifth largest utilisation of free movement rights of any country in Europe. As Rafael Behr notes, ending free movement ‘limits the freedoms and opportunities attached to possession of a UK passport’1.

However, Theresa May has interpreted the 2016 vote to Leave the EU as a clear instruction to end Free Movement, whatever the cost, and has begun to articulate policy in that direction.
This is a mistake. The public’s view of immigration is far more nuanced than is usually presented. As NIESR show2, when looked at in detail public concern centres on control not numbers, nor high or low skilled but a desire to keep out (perceived) low quality migrants – criminals and those who don’t play by the rules.

Ultimately we can group public concerns about immigration into four categories:

  • Monitoring and security: People want confidence that the government knows who is coming in, and that we are keeping dangerous criminals out
  • Pressure on public services and benefits: Brits want to ensure that our public services don’t suffer and that everyone plays by the same rules
  • Fairness in the Labour Market: Making sure that decent jobs are protected and un scrupulous employers don’t use immigration to cheat the system
  • Integration: We want people who come to the UK to play their part in society – that means learning English and putting down roots

All of these can and should be tackled more effectively under existing rules rather than by abandoning freedom of movement altogether. Indeed, given the colossal economic damage widely expected to result from any decision to end free movement and leave the single market, the government’s chosen course of action is likely to make things worse, not better – from austerity to jobs to public services and fractured communities.

Part One: Understanding the law, and what the UK does – and does not – do

EU law on the free movement of persons

Free movement does not provide an unqualified right to move between Member States. Legislative safeguards exist to prevent abuse of the system, to help Member States keep control, and to ensure EU citizens make a positive contribution to their receiving country:

  • Unconditional ‘right to reside’ lasts only for three months (or six for a jobseeker)
  • Subsequent entitlement to remain is contingent upon employment, self-employment, or the possession of comprehensive sickness insurance and sufficient means
  • Access to public services and social assistance can be withdrawn upon loss of right to reside
  • Member States can require EU citizens to register if they intend to stay in the country for longer than 90 days, providing documentation to certify their right to reside
  • Member States can refuse entry to EU citizens who pose a threat to public security, public policy, or public health. If EU citizens come to constitute such a threat once in the country, they may be expelled
  • Posts in the public service may be restricted to nationals of the respective Member State, provided they involve the exercise of public authority and the protection of state interests

How the UK currently controls free movement

The UK employs a wide range of measures to control free movement within EU law:

  • Monitoring and security

    • EEA criminals identified through databases such as the Schengen Information System (SIS II) are refused entry at border
    • Individuals posing a public policy, public security, or public health risk are expelled from the country
    • Use of International Passenger Survey to determine net migration figures
    • Requirement on migrants to register for NI number if intending to work or claim benefits
  • Pressure on public services and the benefits system
    • No access to job-seekers’ allowance, child benefit or tax credits in first three months of residence
    • Subsequent social assistance claims dependent on being able to prove ‘genuine chance of finding work’ and ‘habitual residence’ in the UK
    • Access to secondary care in NHS dependent on whether an EEA national is ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK
    • Mainstream public service funding designed to account for changes in population density
  • Fairness in the Labour Market
    • Ban on employment agencies advertising jobs abroad that have not first or simultaneously been advertised in the UK
    • Implementation of some new labour market regulations recommended in the Taylor Review
    • Oversight of labour market enforcement bodies by Director of Labour Market Enforcement, Sir David Metcalf
    • Efforts to target modern slavery through the Modern Slavery Act 2015
    • Initiatives to upskill UK workers through the redesign of apprenticeships, the Apprenticeship Levy, and the introduction of T-levels
  • Integration
    • Bid-structured Controlling Migration Fund to release funds for ESOL provision and integration strategies
    • Integrated Communities Strategy: provisions on ESOL including the introduction of a national ESOL strategy and an infrastructure fund, review of housing policy, trial Integration Areas, cooperation with schools, job centres and community groups

Potential models for reform

Since 2016 academics, advisers and theorists have proposed a range of mechanisms to reform immigration across Europe, either as the basis for a specifically post-Brexit settlement, or as part of wider European reform.

  • Safeguard measures to restrict flows (‘emergency brake’)3
    • Emergency caps on the number of EU/EEA citizens that are able to move to a Member State or take up jobs in a given year
  • Free movement with a job offer4
    • EU citizens only permitted to move to another country if they have a definite job offer
  • Swiss-style mechanism for local employment preference5
    • Employers obliged to give local residents priority before recruiting from overseas under certain circumstances relating to unemployment in occupations/localities
  • The ‘continental partnership’6
    • Limited free movement within a second tier of EU membership
  • Regional investment7
    • Reallocation of EU funds to skill-intensive sectors in sender countries

Part Two The view from the continent: ‘The UK could and should do more’

In recent years Member States have recognised the need to tighten free movement rules to prevent exploitation, especially with regards to labour and social security:

  • Reforms to the Posting of Workers Directive
    • Seeks to prevent undercutting on wages of national workers by those posted by another Member State with lower rates of pay or working conditions
  • The introduction of the Labour Mobility Package (including the establishment of a European Labour Authority and a European Social Security Number)
    • Aims to strengthen enforcement to prevent cross-border labour market abuses
  • Stronger action on external borders and non-EU migration (through establishment of processing centres, greater funds for FRONTEX and border countries, and accelerated return of irregular migrants)
    • Attempts to restrict entry to non-community individuals and to better control any secondary movement through the Schengen Area
  • Rulings of the CJEU (in cases such as Dano et al)
    • Shifted balance away from individual citizen rights and towards rights of the Member States
    • Confirmed the right of Member States to restrict ‘welfare tourism’ and to enforce permanent residence conditions

In exclusive conversations with politicians across Europe, continental policy-makers were unanimous in arguing that the UK could and should make use of additional measures currently allowed under existing law, in line with other European nations:

  • Lodewijk Asscher (Former DPM Netherlands):
    “There is absolutely more the UK could have done to manage free movement. First of all, by not really regulating the flows after 2004, the Labour government at that time took a huge risk. Second, there are a lot of protections that are not in place in the UK that could be just on the national level. Third, the system of social contributions in the UK has some perverse effects. The way employers are asked to contribute is different for example to the Netherlands and some other countries where it’s really normal that you have paid into the system before you get some of the benefits, not discriminatory but for all of the people working here.”
  • Sandro Gozi (Former Italian Europe Minister):
    “It is really odd that the UK hasn’t introduced compulsory registration for EU citizens/ID cards, or enforced the 3-month rule, as we do in Italy and other countries. They help us to keep control of free movement within the rules.”
  • Peter Hummelgaard (Speaker on EU Affairs, Danish Social Democrats):
    “In Denmark we have an ID card system, we have tried with all our national means to regulate social dumping, as much as we can. Of course we need better EU rules for doing that, but there has been more that a national government can do if it wants to do it.”
  • José Alarcón Hernández (Spanish Director General for Migration) argued that the UK’s light-touch system of labour market regulation had facilitated the large influx of EU labour:
    “The way to regulate the flow of workers is to intervene as governments do in the labour market. That is to say that when a government manages to secure an adequate labour market and working conditions and the workers are happy with what they are being paid and feel valued, normally there is no need for foreign workers to come and fill roles that native workers do not desire.”

Ultimately there remains an elite consensus – in line again with public support – in favour of the free movement of people across the continent. The most recent Eurobarometer survey recorded 82% support for ‘the free movement of EU citizens who can live, work, study and do business anywhere in the EU’, up one percentage point on Autumn 20178. Policy Makers from across the continent did however raise a range of potential chang- es to existing law to curtail the potential for exploitation:

  • Emergency Brake:
    “It would be reasonable to discuss an emergency brake given the situation that Britain is in” Peter Hummelgaard
  • Tougher action to protect workers:
    “There is still the need to prove to some Italian workers, to French workers… that the free movement of people is not placing them at the back of the queue” Sandro Gozi
  • Benefits tourism:
    “It should not be the case that people can choose… where they want to receive social benefits” State Secretary from a German Federal Ministry
  • Reform as part of toughening up the external border:
    “The EU or Schengen has to step up, come up with a more European system of asylum-seeking and regulated migration, in order to restore the sense of control”
    Lodewijk Asscher
  • Controls on criminals:
    “There exists the need to further strengthen police cooperation and judicial cooperation. It is absurd that we have free movement of citizens which means that we have free movement of criminals until they are caught” Sandro Gozi

Part Three: The Best of the rest – what the UK can learn from other European nations in managing migration

Where the UK could do more

The UK has proved to be an attractive destination, how- ever, public policy has not always properly adapted:

  • Monitoring and security
    • Outdated migration data sources widely considered inadequate for tracking flows of EEA/non-EEA citizens in and out of the UK
    • Mix of different ID systems leading to overlapping and inaccurate central government databases, and difficulties for UK and non-UK citizens alike in obtaining documents and proving identity
    • Use of European security systems widely accepted to be substandard, featuring outdated IT infrastructure, poor data input, and lack of access to DNA-sharing Prüm controls
  • Pressure on public services and the benefits system
    • Tension between a non-contributory welfare system, universal and free at the point of delivery and the lack of a universal registration or ID system capable of efficiently establishing the right to social entitlements, contributing to public concerns about fair access by non-UK nationals
    • Individuals with a lawful right to reside and access services denied by lack of acceptable documentation e.g. the ‘Windrush’ generation
  • Fairness in the Labour Market
    • Limited protection against exploitative zero-hours contracts, lack of controls on the gig economy and opt-outs from the Working Time Directive.
    • Minimal funding for various labour enforcement bodies and low inspection rates
    • Serious skills shortage amongst UK workers compounded by inefficacy of the Apprenticeship Levy
  • Integration
    • Cuts in funding for integration and English-language courses
    • Limited scope and funding for the Controlling Migration Fund (CMF) and lack of direct support for frontline public services
    • Laissez-faire approach leaving many without the ability to speak English

Lessons from europe

European counterparts use a variety of measures within existing law to protect national workers, boost integra- tion, and identify citizens from free movement states to monitor flows and protect access to public services:

  • Monitoring and security
    • Compulsory registration of EU citizens resident for over three months (Belgium)
    • e-ID cards (Estonia)
    • Full implementation of Prüm controls and engagement in EU crime systems (Spain)
  • Pressure on public services and the benefits system
    • Requirement to present valid ID to access public services and social assistance (Estonia)
    • Online platform linked to e-ID to book appointments and conduct engagements with public services and administration (Estonia)
  • Fairness in the Labour Market
    • Strong regulation to limit use of Working Time Directive opt-outs and zero-hours contracts (France, Germany, and Switzerland, which is connected to the free movement of people through bilateral agreements)
    • Effective enforcement of labour abuses through regular and targeted inspections with floor limits on annual inspection rates (Switzerland)
    • Respected vocational training routes with clear access to higher education, support for overseas training, and a functioning Apprenticeship Levy (Denmark)
    • Targeted tax incentives for training in at-risk sectors, and devolved skills provision (Hungary, Germany, Spain)
  • Integration
    • Annual integration summits with central government, federal states, business, trade unions, and migrant organisations (Germany)
    • Integration courses and one-to-one migration advisers (Germany)

Part four : Real action to address public concerns within existing rules

What the UK should do: recommendations

The UK could address public concerns around immigration within existing free movement rules. The most effective strategies from Europe could and should be adapted and employed in the UK, without discarding the significant benefits afforded to the UK through our close relationship with the EU.

The UK is the only country within the EU not to employ a national ID system9 – this is a mistake that prevents the UK from better controlling free movement. This should be rectified as quickly as possible, and sit at the centre of a new approach.

A new approach to free movement:
  • Monitoring and security: Introduce an electronic ID card to provide compulsory registration for anyone staying more than 90 days, giving government up to date information on who is living and working in the UK
  • Pressure on public services and the benefits system: Make a valid e-ID Card a requirement to live, work and access public services and benefits, and use it to release extra funding for public services in areas experiencing surges in migration
  • Fairness in the Labour Market: Proper enforcement squads to crack down on unscrupulous businesses and bring in new protections for British workers
  • Integration: Introduce a turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund and boost language and integration provision

The British e-ID card

Less bureaucracy than now

For most people, the British e-ID card would mean fewer cards. It would replace existing cards like NI cards, driving licenses, and proof of age cards. The card would be free for users – which means young people would pay much less than now since there would be no need to pay for proof of age cards which would instead be loaded onto the electronic card.

Universal ID for everyone in the UK

Following a phased roll-out, possession of an e-ID card should be compulsory for anyone intending to work, ac- cess key services, and/or spend longer than 90 consecutive days in the UK.

Controlling access to public services, benefits and the right to reside and work

Reform access to public services and social benefits so that individuals can easily claim their entitlements and interact with government services, and those without the right of access are prevented from doing so. In particular, the e-ID card would control access to the world of work (replacing the NI number requirement), housing (through tenancy agreements), the benefits system and non-emergency public services through a digital verification system, and in doing so would apply the same standards to everybody regardless of race or background.

Monitoring immigration and ensuring local services get the support they need

The e-ID card would provide the first ever database of who is living and working in the UK, ensuring that each citizen is fairly accounted for in the funding of public services. This would allow resources to be quickly, and correctly allocated to areas facing rising migration.

Citizen-first, digital-first approach, controlling data and keeping costs low:

Minimal information, owned by each citizen, anonymised and protected from abuse, with citizens’ rights clearly established and amendable only following full and open debate in parliament. The card would be digital first, and would build on existing infrastructure to keep costs low.

The first part of a new approach to citizenship, guaranteeing the right to vote:

Every British citizen could be automatically registered to vote at the address or place of study listed on the e-ID card, revolutionising access to our democracy.

How ID cards could sit at the heart of a new system which would properly address the four primary public concerns

  • Monitoring and security
    Follow Belgium, Estonia, and other Member States in introducing a comprehensive e-ID card to provide identification, with compulsory registration for those wishing to work or use public services, and those intending to stay for over 90 days.

    • e-ID cards:
      • Compulsory e-ID cards with a general principle that the card is required in order to live, work, and access services and benefits. All EU citizens would be required to register for a card in order to remain in the country longer than 90 days.
      • For stays over 90 days, EU citizens would have to provide evidence of work, self-employment or job-seeking, or comprehensive sickness insurance coupled with sufficient resources to support themselves and their family in order to acquire an e-ID – without one, living and working in the UK would be impossible
      • e-ID card data used by Government to better track movements of EEA citizens into and out of the country, and improve overall data on migratory flows
      • Require the presentation of an e-ID card for every individual renting property for longer than 3 months in order to standardise process for all nationalities, improve population data, and enforce registration
    • Security cooperation to detect and deny entry to criminals:
      • Fully engage in European security information systems and become a security leader in Europe
  • Pressure on public services and the benefits system
    Follow Estonia in making a valid UK e-ID card a requirement to access public services and benefits, and release extra funding for public services in areas experiencing surges in migration:

    • e-ID card:
      • Ensure that all citizens have a valid e-ID card and the right to reside in the UK to register for public services such as a GP
      • Require that those wishing to claim benefits have a valid e-ID card
      • Provisions made for those who lose their card/number, and for rough sleepers and those resistant to authority engagement
    • Responsive funding for public services to minimise perceived negative impacts:
      • Use population data from the e-ID card system to detect migration surges, and use this to trigger funding releases to public services in those areas. Integrate this funding within a new Strengthening Communities Fund (more under Integration)
  • Fairness in the Labour Market
    Follow Switzerland (which has effective membership of the free movement system through bilateral agreement) in introducing proper enforcement squads to crack down on unscrupulous businesses and bring in new protections and training for British workers to ensure a level playing-field:

    • Tougher enforcement to prevent illicit undercutting on wages/conditions:
      • Introduce a simple online tool for employers and enforcement officers to check right to work status using the e-ID card
      • Fully implement the recommendations made by Sir David Metcalf in the Labour Market Enforcement Strategy 2018/19, including imposing significantly higher fines for non- compliance with the minimum/living wage
      • Introduce new targets for inspectors, potentially under a new powerful Labour Inspectorate, combining the three major enforcement agencies
    • Effective labour regulation to protect workers’ rights:
      • Fully implement the Taylor Review including the introduction of a new ‘dependent contractor’ status to help workers in the gig economy, and clarifying the rights of agency workers
      • Reform the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to improve cross-border accountability
      • Reassess the use of opt-outs from the Working Time Directive and regulation of zero-hours contracts
      • Switzerland have secured a mechanism whereby local vacancies must be advertised to residents first under certain conditions, providing assurances to residents that they have a fair chance of winning local jobs. There is no good reason why Britain cannot do the same
    • Better training to upskill British workers and raise productivity – currently 25% lower than Germany10:
      • Ensure that all 18 year olds with 5 good GCSEs are given the right to a high-quality apprenticeship, and build a reformed Apprenticeship Levy which genuinely upskills the workforce, boosts productivity, and prepares Britain for the jobs of tomorrow
      • Ensure that T-levels provide university- appropriate qualifications
      • Look closely at proposals to devolve skills provision
  • Integration
    Introduce a turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund and follow Germany in boosting language and integration provision:

    • Strengthening Communities Fund to support local areas:
      • Replace the Controlling Migration Fund with a turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund, backed by significant investment – raising financing which reflects the enormous positive impact that immigrants make to the UK economy
      • Use part of the new fund to ensure that frontline public services in areas experiencing high migration are adequately supported, and that existing residents do not lose out
    • Stronger English language provision and requirements to help migrants gain a foothold in the UK:
      • Raise government funding for ESOL provision to pre-2010 levels, and make English language learning a governmental priority
      • Extend the English language requirement for public-sector workers to include appropriate private-sector contractors
    • Integration provision to ease transitions and review best practice:
      • Hold annual integration summits in conjunction with stakeholders to continually revise government strategies on strengthening communities
      • Introduce low-cost integration courses accessible to EEA and UK citizens alike which foster citizenship and civic duty, and act as a portal to high-quality ESOL teaching
      • Establish a Migration Advisory Service to resolve integration challenges

Full Report

Introduction

Immigration has been good for the UK. People coming here from other parts of the world have used their skills and labour to build successful businesses, create jobs and keep our public services going. Freedom of move- ment between the UK and the EU has made us better off. EEA migrants contributed a net £2,300 per head more to the UK’s public finances in 2016/17 than the average adult, and make a net lifetime contribution to the UK’s public finances of £78,000 per person11.

But the benefits of immigration are not just economic; they are social and cultural as well. They exist not just in the millions of people who have found love and friendship, and started families, as a direct result of crossing borders, or in the millions more who would not have been born at all without immigration into the UK. They can be found, too, in contemporary British culture, art, music, sport, food – the things that make life worth living. All of these have been influenced and transformed for the better by people who have come to the UK from overseas and made their lives here.

Not everyone agrees. There are many reasons for the UK’s vote in 2016 to leave the European Union, but there is a broad consensus that concern over the level of immigration to the UK, especially from Eastern Europe was a significant factor. This means that there is a dilemma at the heart of immigration policy. The most popular policy options – at least on the face of it – would be harmful to the UK and the people who live here. And the economic and other consequences of these popular policy options might well be rather unpopular. Faced with this dilemma, the Government has chosen to risk the economic harm of ending freedom of movement rather than what it sees as the political harm of retaining it in the face of public opposition. Theresa May has claimed that in the EU referendum ‘People voted to end free movement,’12 though of course strictly speaking that was not the question on the ballot paper. The Government has made ‘ending freedom of movement’ one of its red lines in Brexit negotiations with the EU, despite the
constraints this places on any possible deal.
At Conservative Party Conference in October 2018, Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced that the immigration system will be reshaped as the UK leaves the EU, ending freedom of movement and replacing the current system with one which treats EU and non-EU citizens the same, giving priority to highly skilled workers and cutting low-skilled migration, with applicants having to meet a minimum salary threshold13. It is not yet clear how this will work, but the general thrust of the policy has already been criticised by business leaders who warn that there are labour shortages in low-skilled sectors such as construction, hospitality and care, and that making low-skilled migration harder ‘risks harming businesses and living standards now and in the future’14.

To take just one example of the damage this policy could cause, Global Future’s August 2018 report 100,000 Carers Missing showed that if free movement ends for low-skilled workers, there could be over 100,000 fewer social care staff by 2026 than if free movement continues15. In a country with close to full employment, it is difficult to see where a large additional supply of labour in sectors which currently rely significantly on low-skilled migrant workers is going to come from.

In September the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) noted the significant contribution of migrants to the social care workforce, but said that ‘The sector’s problems are not primarily migration-related. A sustainable funding model, paying competitive wages to UK residents, would alleviate many of the recruitment and retention issues.’16 This claim, while undoubtedly true in principle, is not a particularly helpful contribution to the question of whether social care is likely to continue to rely on migrant labour in real life. There appears, in real life, to be no serious prospect of either a sustainable funding model for social care or more competitive wages for social care workers – and both of these are as dependent on government decisions as immigration policy. As the MAC says, ‘the impacts of migration often depend on other government policies and should not be seen in isolation from the wider context.’17 As things stand, ending low-skilled migration from the EU would be catastrophic for social care and the people who rely on it, and this will continue to be true unless and until the Government changes its social care policy in a way it has so far shown no inclination to do.

Ending free movement in the way the Government currently proposes does not just damage those sectors, both public and private, who are currently reliant on low-skilled migrant labour from elsewhere in the EU. It also makes it more difficult for the UK to get a Brexit deal that preserves the other benefits of single market membership, because so far as the EU is concerned, and has repeatedly made clear, the ‘four freedoms’ of the single market – freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and labour – are indivisible. Leaving the single market inevitably means a hit to the UK’s economy, which currently benefits enormously from frictionless trade with the EU – 44 per cent of all UK exports are to the EU, and 53 per cent of all UK imports are from the EU18. Global Future’s April 2018 report Too High A Price? found that when the public are presented with the government’s own modelling of the costs and benefits of different Brexit options, more than half prefer the deal with the smallest impact on the public finances (an EEA-type relationship with the EU) even though that involves retaining freedom of movement19.

But if freedom of movement is both beneficial in itself and part of the price of retaining the best possible trading deal between Britain and the EU, that does not have to mean simply keeping our immigration policy as it is. As this report shows, there are a number of significant changes the UK can make to the way it controls immigration from the rest of Europe, whether it stays within the EU or not. European politicians and policymakers interviewed for this report expressed surprise that the UK had not done more already to manage free movement within the existing rules – less, in fact, than many other EU countries. And our conversations also demonstrated that appetite for further reform of freedom of movement is not a uniquely British phenomenon.

There are four particular areas of public concern over immigration where the Government has the power to act within the existing freedom of movement rules. People worry that migration is not effectively monitored, so that the Government does not know how many people are coming into the country or what they are doing here. They worry about pressure on public services, housing and the benefits system. They worry about unfair pressure on jobs and wages. And they worry about migrants failing to integrate into British society.

As such, and contrary to the accepted wisdom in Westminster – and the logic underlying recent statements from the government and the Migration Advisory Committee Report – the public’s view is far more nuanced than simply high skill good / low skilled bad. In fact, as noted by NIESR in recently published research20, the public want ‘high-quality’ migration – people who will play by the rules. As they say, control is not about numbers, it’s about ensuring that we screen-out not the low-skilled but the ‘low quality’ migrants – criminals and those who don’t want to work and contribute to society. That leaves us with the following:

  • Monitoring and security: People want confidence that the government knows who is coming in, and that we are keeping dangerous criminals out
  • Pressure on public services and benefits: Brits want to ensure that our public services don’t suffer and that everyone plays by the same rules
  • Fairness in the Labour Market: Making sure that decent jobs are protected and unscrupulous employers don’t use immigration to cheat the system
  • Integration: We want people who come to the UK to play their part in society – that means learning English and putting down roots

All of these can and should be tackled more effectively under existing rules rather than by abandoning freedom of movement altogether. The UK is the only country in Europe to lack a national ID system. Britain has not introduced compulsory registration for EU citizens, nor has it enforced the EU rules under which unemployed EEA jobseekers only have an unqualified right of residence for the first three months of their stay. This could and should be achieved, this report recommends, by introducing an e-ID card, similar to those used in Estonia or Belgium, with compulsory registration for those wishing to work or use public services, and those intending to stay for over 90 days. This would be beneficial for UK citizens too – providing a single, simple way of proving one’s identity and right to work and access benefits and services, as well as to vote, and bringing together information already held on individuals by the Government into a format whereby individuals use it more effectively. The recent Windrush scandal showed the risks to individuals who through no fault of their own lack the ability to prove their right to reside in the UK. The anonymised data the underlying system would generate would also enable much more accurate population information, making it easier to allocate funding to areas facing rising migration pressures – a major source of public concern about immigration.

Pressures on jobs and wages are best tackled not by attempting to block access to employment by the European workers who contribute to our economy and keep our public services going, but by making sure there is a level playing-field, with proper inspections of industries most vulnerable to exploitation, and enforcement of employment law. This report recommends that government press ahead with legislation to create a ‘dependent contractor’ worker category and to clarify the rights of agency workers in line with the Taylor Report recommendation, and further invest in skills training to make sure local workers are properly equipped to compete. What’s more, better data on where migrants live would enable much faster transfers of additional resources into local public services when population density changes.
All of these measures would go some way towards assuaging public concern about the impact of immigration. None of them would require the UK – whatever relationship it seeks with the European Union – to take the economic hit that would follow from ending freedom of movement and cutting the UK off from the closest possible trading relationship with the EU. Retaining freedom of movement need not mean doing nothing. Politicians should acknowledge that, and neither hide behind the EU as an excuse for failing to act nor insist on unnecessary self-harm.

Part One
Understanding the law, and what the UK does – and does not – do

(1) EU law on the free movement of persons

The principle of the free movement of persons across the EU is enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), specifically Articles 20-21 (on freedom of establishment), Article 45 (on free movement of workers), and Article 49 (on freedom of establishment). The practical implementation of the above articles is codified in detail through secondary legislation, such as the Citizens’ Rights Directive (Directive 2004/38/EC) and specific regulations on workers (e.g. Regulation 492/2011/EC) social security (e.g. Regulation 883/2004/ EC and Regulation 987/2009/EC). This is complemented by an extensive range of case-law from the Court of the Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

It is important to clarify what the legislation and case law permit with regards to free movement. Substantive provisions exist which allow Member States to control entry to EU nationals, and to restrict their conditions and benefits on arrival – provisions which are employed extensively by many European neighbours.

Article 45, Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)

21
Whilst Articles 20-21 and Article 49 legislate for the basic right to establish oneself and one’s economic activity in another EU country, it is Article 45 of the TFEU22 that specifically legislates for the free movement of workers. This Article contains a number of important subsections:

  • Sub-section (2) prohibits any discrimination between workers of Member States in matters of employment, remuneration, and other conditions of work/ employment,
  • Sub-section (3) codifies the right to: accept offers of employment; to move freely within the territory of Member States for the purpose of accepting such offers; to stay in a Member State for the purpose of employment in line with the conditions offered to nationals of that state; and to remain in the territory of a Member State after having been employed there, subject to subsequent Commission regulations (specifically the Citizens’ Rights Directive),
  • Sub-section (4) clarifies that the provisions of the Article do not apply to employment in the ‘public service’.

Sub-section (2) not only prohibits discrimination against workers of other Member States in employment matters, but it is also prohibits discrimination in favour of such workers. This means that an employer who deliberately recruits EU nationals instead of nationals from their own state is in contravention of EU law.

The rights enshrined in sub-section (3) are not unrestricted, but are subject to limitations on grounds of public policy, public security or public health. In practice, this means that Member States are both able to prevent EU nationals from entering the country to work if they are considered a risk to public policy/security/health, and from remaining there if they come to entail such a risk. This provision has been used regularly by the UK, both in preventing entry to criminals and other persons posing a risk to public policy, security or health, and in removing such figures from the country.

Likewise, sub-section (4) allows Member States to prioritise their own nationals for posts within the ‘public service’. Case-law from the CJEU23 has clarified that ‘public service’ entails roles which involve the exercise of public authority and which feature responsibility for safeguarding the general interest of the state concerned (such as its internal or external security). Whilst this does not allow for the prioritisation of nationals in fields such as teaching and nursing and administrative roles within the police/armed services, it does allow for such prioritisation in a wide range of public-sector occupations, including local authority posts24 – the legitimacy of a restriction is simply to be tested on a case-by-case basis. The UK already makes use of this allowance; reserved posts in the Civil Service are only open to UK nationals, as are roles in the diplomatic and intelligence services, the police, and the armed forces. Even certain roles in the private sector have fallen within this provision, including the captaincy of ships flying the national flag in a 2003 case before the CJEU25.

Citizens’ Rights Directive

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The details of free movement of persons were further clarified in the Citizens’ Rights Directive of 2004. This directive is extensive and wide-ranging, covering a prohibition on entry/exit visas, the rights of residence for EU citizens and their families across different time periods, administrative formalities (such as an allowance for registration requirements), and specific detail on the various grounds for refusal of entry and/or deportation.

In particular:
  • Article 6 legislates for a right of residence of up to three months for EU citizens and any non-EU family members, without any conditions besides the possession of a valid identity card or passport
  • Article 7 legislates for a right of residence of over three months to those EU citizens who satisfy the following criteria (‘exercising treaty rights’):
    • Employed or self-employed, or involuntarily unemployed, either due to an inability to work through illness or through a loss of employment27
    • Economically inactive or accredited students with: (i) ‘sufficient resources for themselves and their family not to become a burden on the social assistance system of the host Member State; and (ii) ‘comprehensive sickness insurance cover’
  • Article 24 legislates for a right to equal treatment for all EEA citizens and non-EU family members with nationals of the Member State. This does apply to social assistance, though the state is not obliged to grant such assistance to economically inactive people (including the involuntarily unemployed) or students during the first three months of their stay.
  • Article 27 legislates for the right to expel EU citizens on grounds of public policy, public security, or public health, as established in Article 45(3) of the TFEU. Expulsion cannot be used for economic ends, and the citizen involved must constitute ‘a genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat affecting one of the fundamental interests of society’.

Many of these provisions are highly technical; in short however, they mean that an unemployed EEA jobseeker only has an unqualified right to residence for three months. After three months, this right is contingent on the possession of sufficient resources and a ‘genuine chance’ of finding work. This does not mean that the respective Member State can immediately deport them (given that such expulsions are contingent on meeting the conditions laid out in Article 27), but that such individuals can no longer claim social assistance, just as they are not guaranteed social benefits during the first three months without contributions. With no social security safety net, no employment and insufficient resources, it is likely that these individuals would return to their country of origin. In any case, though reliance on social assistance may not trigger deportation, it is possible under certain circumstances to expel EU citizens on the grounds of their reliance on such assistance, or if they have been found to have abused their free movement rights.

Likewise, both Articles 6 and 7 allow for the registration of EEA citizens in the host Member State, a basic identification check under Article 6 and a more extensive registration process under Article 7 (explicitly recognised in Article 8). Whilst EU citizens cannot be deported for failing to comply with these checks, they may be subject to ‘proportionate and non-discriminatory sanctions’ which ordinarily take the form of a fine28.

Importantly, the primary and secondary legislation which enshrines the free movement of persons contains significant procedural safeguards to prevent abuse of the system. As Guy Verhofstadt argued in his oral evidence to a Home Affairs Select Committee, “it is not that everybody can walk in or walk out of a country”29; known criminals may be stopped at the border or deported, social assistance can be withdrawn, and compulsory registrations may be introduced, all without violating the principle of free movement.

Summary

  • All EU citizens have the right to enter and exit another Member State without visa controls. During their period of residence, they are entitled to equality of treatment with nationals from the Member State
  • However, their unconditional right to reside only lasts for three months (or six for a jobseeker). After this period, it becomes contingent upon employment, self-employment, or the possession of comprehensive sickness insurance and sufficient means to support oneself and one’s family
  • If an EU citizen lacks a right to reside, they may not be deported on that basis, though their access to public services and social assistance can be withdrawn
  • Member States can require EU citizens to register if they intend to stay in the country for longer than 90 days, providing documentation certifying their right to reside
  • Member States can refuse entry to EU citizens who pose a threat to public security, public policy, or public health. If EU citizens come to constitute such a threat once in the country, they may be expelled
  • Posts in the public service may be restricted to nationals of the respective Member State, provided they involve the exercise of public authority and the protection of the interests of the state

(2) How the UK currently controls free movement

The UK already employs a wide range of measures to control free movement within the above EU legislation.

Monitoring and security

UK Border Control officers regularly make use of data supplied by European information sharing systems (such as the Schengen Information System) to refuse entry to EEA citizens that pose a risk to the UK. The UK has used these systems substantially more than most other Member States, accessing the Schengen system 540 million times in 2017 despite only placing 15,100 alerts of its own onto the system30. This has led to 6,000 EEA nationals being turned away by border agents from 2010-2016. EU citizens considered to pose a public policy, public security or public health risk under Article 27 of the Citizens’ Rights Directive are regularly deported, with 6,500 nationals removed between 2010-201631.

The International Passenger Survey is used to give an approximate estimate of the numbers of EEA migrants settling in the country, in combination with administration data from this year32. Likewise, the UK forces all EEA workers to register and attend an interview for a National Insurance number if they intend to work or claim benefits. Though a citizen may work before securing the number, they must be in the process of applying for it. Jobseekers/workers must provide identification and proof of address, along with proof of employment (e.g. a contract) or job-seeking activity (e.g. an acknowledgement email from a job application). This process is intended to make sure that the government is aware of legal EU workers/jobseekers.

Pressure on public services and the benefits system

The NI registration process aims to ensure that European citizens who live and work in the UK make social security contributions to support core public services. Those found not exercising their treaty rights (i.e. lacking employment/’genuine chance’ of finding work or self-sufficiency with medical insurance) lose their right to reside in the UK, and with it their access to social security.
Those moving to the UK for work must prove that they are intending to settle through ‘habitual residence’ to qualify for benefits, requiring the provision of documentation (e.g. National Insurance numbers and utility bills). They are excluded from claiming income-based jobseekers’ allowance, child benefit and tax credits for three months, and may only claim such benefits for a further three months if they are able to prove a ‘genuine chance’ of finding work.

The UK’s approach to many public services, based on residence rather than contribution, makes restricting EEA citizens’ access difficult given equality between citizens of different Member States enshrined in EU law. However, access to secondary care within the NHS is dependent on the respective EEA national proving that they are ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK, usually determined through letters of address, bank statements, or employment contracts. Mainstream government funding models for public services are also designed to account for changes in population density, alleviating perceived pressures on their resources arising from migration.

Fairness in the labour market

The 2014 and 2016 amendments to the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations specifically banned such agencies from advertising jobs abroad that had not first or simultaneously been advertised in the UK. The existence of a National Minimum Wage and floor working standards also limit the scope for undercutting the wages of British workers.

Government has not implemented all recommendations from the Taylor Review it commissioned; however, it has undertaken some reforms to improve the quality of work. The government response to Taylor pledged bigger fines for companies that repeatedly use people in bogus self-employment, permits the Low Pay Commission to examine the introduction of a higher minimum wage for zero-hours contracts and introduces a right for such workers to request a fixed-hours contract, alongside consultations over issues from Swedish derogation contracts to the role of the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate. In addition, the government has announced a series of initiatives designed to upskill UK workers to ensure that they can compete, through the redesign of the apprenticeship system, the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, and the ntroduction of T-levels as a bridge between vocational education and university.

The UK government introduced the Modern Slavery Act in 2015 to tackle inhumane treatment of workers, and recently commissioned an independent review of its success to ensure that migrants are not exploited in the UK. Furthermore, the Immigration Act 2016 established a Director of Labour Market Enforcement, currently Sir David Metcalf, to produce an annual labour market enforcement strategy to guide operations of the three main enforcement bodies: the National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage team, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI).

Integration

Finally, the UK uses a variety of schemes to facilitate the integration process for those who come to the country. The Adult Education Budget funds adult English language provision for speakers of other languages (ESOL). Likewise, the Controlling Migration Fund issues £35 million annually to integration projects that bid for funding, from the provision of ESOL classes to support services for EEA rough sleepers33. The government’s recently-launched Integrated Communities Green Paper proposes a raft of new measures to aid integration, including a review of allocations in housing policy, trial Integration Areas in Bradford and other sites, and cooperation with schools, job centres and local community groups to develop effective strategies and prevent ethnic or social isolation. On ESOL, the paper proposes the development of a new strategy for English language in England, a new community-based English language programme, work with local authorities to improve provision, a new infrastructure fund for local councils offering ESOL classes, and a new network of conversation clubs.

Summary

Specific measures used by the UK:

  • Monitoring and security
    • EEA criminals identified through databases such as the Schengen Information System (SIS II) refused entry at border
    • Individuals posing a public policy, public security, or public health risk expelled from country
    • Use of International Passenger Survey to determine net migration figures
    • Requirement to register for NI number if intending to work or claim benefits
  • Pressure on public services and the benefits system
    • No access to job-seekers’ allowance, child benefit or tax credits in first three months of residence
    • Subsequent social assistance claims dependent on being able to prove ‘genuine chance of finding work’ and ‘habitual residence’ in the UK
    • Access to secondary care in NHS dependent on if EEA national is ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK
    • Mainstream public service funding designed to account for changes in population density
  • Fairness in the labour market
    • Ban on employment agencies advertising jobs abroad that had not first or simultaneously been advertised in the UK
    • Implementation of some new labour market regulations recommended in the Taylor Review
    • Oversight of labour market enforcement bodies by Director of Labour Market Enforcement, Sir David Metcalf
    • Efforts to target modern slavery through the Modern Slavery Act 2015
    • Initiatives to upskill UK workers through the redesign of apprenticeships, the Apprenticeship Levy, and the introduction of T-levels
  • Integration
    • Bid-structured Controlling Migration Fund to release funds for ESOL provision and integration strategies
    • Integrated Communities Strategy: provisions on ESOL including the introduction of a national ESOL strategy and an infrastructure fund, review of housing policy, trial Integration Areas, cooperation with schools, job centres and community groups

(3) Potential models for reform

Despite the flexibility of EU law and the measures implemented by the UK to control any negative impacts of free movement on its nationals, there is a public appetite for further action. The Eurobarometer survey run by the European Commission showed support for free movement in 2015 to be substantially lower in the UK than for any other Member State34, with the EU average of 78% approval falling to 63% for the UK, five percentage points behind the second lowest scoring country, Italy. Though support in the UK has risen for the principle since 2015, it still sits in the second-lowest position, some ten percentage points behind the EU average35. Furthermore, polling conducted by Lord Ashcroft found that 33% of Leave voters in 2016 attributed their decision principally to a desire ‘for the UK to regain control over immigration and its own borders’36.

The central pillar of the renegotiation package secured by David Cameron ahead of the 2016 referendum was a 4-year ‘emergency brake’ on in-work benefits payable to EU migrants exercising treaty rights, activated if/when migratory flows reached abnormally high levels in particular Member States. However, the results from the long-awaited renegotiation were largely absent from the Remain campaign; in any case, the reform offer expired upon Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, and has not since been implemented into European law.

Since 2016, academics, advisers and theorists have proposed a range of mechanisms to reform immigration across Europe, either as the basis for a specifically post-Brexit settlement, or as part of wider European reform.

Safeguard measures to restrict flows (‘emergency brake’)

An ‘emergency brake’ would allow the UK and potentially other Member States to restrict free movement when a certain level of net EU migration has been reached within a certain year. This would allow the respective Member State to gain perceived control over total numbers and flows, and would likely seek to address churn/ turnover in communities and/or downwards pressure in the labour market.

However, the specific nature of such a brake continues to be unclear. Sir Ivan Rogers, for example, has asked who would exercise control over when a brake was to
be applied37. Harvey Redgrave suggests that such a brake could not cap numbers but rather access to certain sectors (being applied in the workplace rather than at the border)38, and Professor Jonathan Portes questions when a brake would ever be applied given the fact that EU migration to the UK is generally a relatively steady stream39.

In addition, Portes argues that the UK would not be justified in calling for an application of the brake on the basis of labour market conditions, given the overwhelming evidence that EU migration benefits the UK economy and labour market overall. If the UK were to secure an emergency brake clause after choosing to remain in the EU, the conditions under which it would operate would inevitably require close attention.

Free movement with a job offer

Free movement’s initial purpose, pre-Maastricht, was to facilitate the movement of labour across the continent, either in its totality or for certain desirable flows/skills40. In their argument for post-Brexit Britain to adopt a ‘fair movement’ immigration policy with the EU, Catherine Barnard and Sarah Fraser Butlin41 argue that the original legal basis of free movement is firmly based on the assumption of a job offer, with the Inter-Governmental Conference of November 1955 specifying free movement ‘if a job is actually obtained’42.

Policy Network43 have drawn attention to Article 46(d) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) to suggest support for such a reform, and in particular its stated intention to balance supply and demand within the labour market. They suggest that removing jobseeking from free movement permissions would assure the British public that the quality of migrants and their contribution is high; similarly, the British Chambers of Commerce have described such a policy as ‘the most appealing’ option in allowing businesses to access desired skills44. Barnard and Fraser Butlin argue how such a policy might be achievable when combined with a registration scheme similar to that employed for Croatian, Bulgarian, and Romanian migrants.

However, as Policy Network and others45 note, such a mechanism might allow EU migrants a loophole – arriving as tourists, finding a job, and subsequently returning home before coming back to the UK with a job offer. Likewise, Harvey Redgrave46 has highlighted the danger of an unintended expansion in recruitment agencies established with the sole purpose of employing abroad, and has questioned whether a job offer requirement would do anything to quell unease over access to public services and the pace of community change. It is similarly unclear that there is willingness amongst European leaders to consider such a change, not least an exclusion of low-skilled jobs from free movement.

Swiss-style mechanism for local employment preference

Switzerland’s non-membership of the EEA/EU means that they are not subject to the conditions laid out in the Citizens’ Rights Directive, but instead have free movement policy agreed under a ‘bilateral agreement’ that offers more flexibility over restrictions47. In 2014 the Swiss government proposed a mechanism to control freedom of movement that was accepted by the European Commission48. Under the agreement, companies within occupational categories where unemployment is above average are obliged to inform local job centres of vacancies, and to give local residents priority for interview before employers may recruit from overseas (including from other states within the free movement area). If employers fail to do so, they can be fined up to 40,000 Swiss francs49.

Professor Portes indicates that a proposal for such a mechanism to be applied to the UK would be far more acceptable to the EU than a quantitative limit on numbers, and envisages that it could be seen as consistent with the text of the European Council agreement forged with David Cameron in 2016, in particular:
“If overriding reasons of public interest make it necessary, free movement of workers may be restricted by measures proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. Encouraging recruitment, reducing unemployment, protecting vulnerable workers and averting the risk of seriously undermining the sustainability of social security systems are reasons of public interest recognised in the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union.”50

Importantly, a version of the Swiss mechanism would be in line with the EU’s focus on removing positive discrimination in favour of Member State nationals over EU nationals, as the priority is given to residents rather than Home nationals. As Professor Jonathan Portes points out51, a UK version of the system which prioritised those registered at Jobcentres and in receipt of unemployment-related or disability benefits would in practice exclude recent arrivals from the EU, as these individuals cannot claim during their first months of residence; however, it might also meet the test of public opinion.

Limited safeguard measures have a legal precedent in agreements struck with Cyprus and Liechtenstein in 2013 and 2015 respectively, responding to unique size and capital issues in those states. Whether or not every Member State would wish to introduce such a mechanism, it is possible that the EU might consider it as a unique package for the UK.

The ‘continental partnership’

The influential European think tank Bruegel have proposed a reformed system of free movement built around the concept of a ‘continental partnership’52, assuming Britain’s exit from the EU. Under this system, a core of EU Member States would continue to implement free movement as they do today. However, this core would be supplemented by a wider ring of European partners who participate in the single market and agree to free movement of goods, services, and capital, but not of persons. Labour mobility would continue in some form, but would be restricted compared to current rules.

The report was not uncontroversial. According to The Telegraph53, a senior Commission source described the paper as a ‘disaster’, and official German sources suggested that one of the authors had been rebuked for participating in the project. However, the report itself was written by senior European figures including a former aide to President Emmanuel Macron in Jean Pisani-Ferry, indicating at the very least a willingness on the part of opinion-leaders in other Member States to develop innovative solutions to the UK’s concern over migration.

Regional investment

The Dutch foreign policy think tank Clingendael54 notes that fears over so-called ‘social dumping’ (the hiring of cheap migrant labour by employers to minimise costs) and public service pressure are overstated, but accepts the presence of some unfair pressure in particular regions and sectors, most notably transport and construction. As a result, it proposes the introduction of targeted emergency brakes such as that negotiated in the Cameron-Tusk deal, alongside a European digital clearance platform and labour inspectorate (partially achieved through the European Labour Authority). In addition, they highlight the issue of a ‘backdoor’ of cheap labour entering the EU through Eastern countries, distorting price wage mechanisms and compounding the ‘brain drain’ in sending countries. To resolve this, they propose a reallocation of EU funds towards skill intensive sectors in traditional sender countries in order to help retain skilled workers.

Summary

Since 2016 academics, advisers and theorists have proposed a range of mechanisms to reform immigration across Europe, either as the basis for a specifically post-Brexit settlement, or as part of wider European reform:

  • Safeguard measures to restrict flows (‘emergency brake’)
    • Emergency caps on the number of EU/EEA citizens that are able to move to a Member State or take up jobs in a given year
  • Free movement with a job offer
    • EU citizens only permitted to move to another country if they have a definite job offer
  • Swiss-style mechanism for local employment preference
    • Employers obliged to give local residents priority before recruiting from overseas under certain circumstances relating to unemployment in occupations/localities
  • The ‘continental partnership’
    • Limited free movement within a second tier of EU membership
  • Regional investment
    • Reallocation of EU funds to skill-intensive sectors in sender countries

Part Two
The view from the continent: ‘The UK could and should do more’

Over the last two years, the European Union has undergone substantial internal reform to policy directly affecting the mobility of citizens. This has stretched from reforms on labour mobility and posted workers through to a strengthening of European common policy on external migration, a challenge facing Europe which directly feeds into the nexus of concerns regarding a lack of controls on those coming to the UK from mainland Europe.

(1) Reforms in the EU and its institutions

Reforms to the Posting of Workers Directive (96/71/EC)

The posting of workers forms a backbone of labour mobility across Europe, involving as it does the sending of workers by an employer to work temporarily within the territory of another Member State. The facilitation of labour mobility allows employers to deploy their labour across the continent, with an estimated 2.05 million workers sent to other countries for this purpose in 201555; this has clear advantages for the employer, and gives Member States competitive flexibility to recruit the best from Europe without costly visa applications.

Posted workers are still, however, legally employed in their country of origin. As such they cannot be subject to the labour laws of the receiving country beyond the possession of a set of minimum working rights. These were enshrined in the 1996 directive; most importantly, posted workers reserved the right to maximum work periods, and the right to earn at least the minimum wage received by workers in the receiving Member State. Nevertheless, they were not entitled to the same wage as workers carrying out the same job in the same industry. They had no legal entitlement, as it were, to ‘equal pay for equal work’, thereby allowing domestic workers to be undercut on wages. The effect of so-called ‘social dumping’ had been described by President Macron as a ‘betrayal of the European spirit’56.

The 1996 system was staunchly defended in Europe by the Visegrád grouping of Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, countries whose workers are disproportionately represented amongst the group of posted workers across Europe, and who claimed in public that reform would hit productivity. After years of vocal calls for reform, the government of France under Macron led a coordinated effort to defeat the Visegrád countries and to secure a majority amongst European governments, finally securing agreement on a draft text in the plenary session on 29th May 2018.

Under the reformed Directive (in application since 29th July 2018)57, posted workers must be paid the ‘same pay for the same work at the same workplace’ from their first day of work in another Member State. Likewise, the labour law of the host country will apply to posted workers after 12 months of work, and countries shall be able to apply any applicable collective agreements in all sectors without restriction. These provisions will be enforced by both the host and sender states, who are obliged to lay down penalties for infraction and to assure employees are kept informed.

Labour Mobility Package

As part of the European Pillar of Social Rights initiative launched by Jean Claude Juncker58, the European Commission has proposed a series of policy reforms designed to clamp down on ‘social dumping’. This Labour Mobility Package includes policies to clarify social security entitlements and responsibilities in Member States59, and the refounding of key agencies such as the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) with expanded remits to tackle abuse in areas of emerging concern (e.g. small and medium-sized enterprises)60. Two measures are particularly relevant in highlighting the EU’s commitment to eliminating unfair pressure on jobs and social security systems from the application of free movement:

  • European Labour Authority
    Fears over unfair pressure on jobs may be compounded if a weak system of labour market enforcement fails to deter employers from hiring migrant workers on illegal wages and conditions likely to be refused by UK nationals. Proposal 2018/0064 (COD) of 13th March 2018 seeks to help Member States collaborate on restricting abuse by establishing a European Labour Authority to assist cross-border enforcement and facilitate access to labour-related services for citizens. Rather than forming an all-encroaching bureaucratic body, the EMPL Committee draft report61 proposes a Labour Authority with a clear and defined role and a limited number of tasks, using the means available as efficiently as possible in areas where the Authority can provide the greatest added value, mostly in the field on enforcement.
  • European Social Security Number
    Another central issue with the movement of workers is the coordination of social security systems. Given minor changes in the spelling of names and the presence of different identification documents, it is very difficult for Member States to cross-check the social security status of an EU citizen with databases held by their counterparts. Coupled with the complexity of rules on the claiming of social assistance within another country, cross-border benefit fraud becomes more likely as citizens move between jobs in different countries and claim residence and the advantages that come with it in multiple states.

    As part of the Labour Mobility Package, the European Commission have proposed the introduction of a single European Social Security Number to allow governments and citizens to verify the status of cross-border workers digitally and without delay62. The specifics of the initiative are yet to be decided as the Commission have not produced a full legislative proposal; however, options
    mooted range from a voluntary number for cross-border workers to a compulsory lifetime number for all63. The Commission are actively liaising with national governments, employers and trade unions in the Advisory Committee on Free Movement over the issue.

External migration policy

The European Union have taken (and are taking) concrete steps to better deal with an influx of refugees and migrants especially through southern European states such as Italy and Spain. The final text agreed after the migration summit of EU leaders on 28th June 201864 laid the foundation for new processing centres within the EU to allow Member States to distinguish between irregular migrants and those in need of assistance, in an effort to better control ‘economic migration’. The text also made provisions for more extensive cooperation with, and funding for, Africa, and calls on Member States to ‘take all necessary internal legislative and administrative measures to counter’ secondary movements of those asylum seekers using the provisions of free movement to reach wealthier western European states.

In his 2018 State of the Union speech, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker argued for a further strengthening of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), more development of the European Asylum Support Office, and an acceleration of the return of irregular migrants, with a reaffirmed commitment to support Member States in this endeavour on the part of the Commission.

Rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Union

In recent years the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has passed several judgements which indicate a willingness to listen to the concerns of ‘receiving countries’ regarding possible exploitation of free movement. Dano65, for example, confirmed the right of Member States to deny access by EU citizens to certain non-contributory social benefits if those citizens are neither self-sufficient nor seeking work. The judgement stated as follows:
“A Member State must therefore have the possibility… of refusing to grant social benefits to economically inactive Union citizens who exercise their right to freedom of movement solely in order to obtain another Member State’s social assistance although they do not have sufficient resources to claim a right of residence.”

Likewise, in Prefeta66 the CJEU ruled in favour of the UK in its decision to exclude time spent working in breach of the registration scheme in operation between 2004 and 2011 from considerations of permanent residence. This registration scheme worked in a similar way to compulsory identity cards, and was mandatory for EU citizens from the A8 countries such as Poland and Czech Republic who joined the Union after 2004. In B/Romero67 the Court made clear that enhanced protection from deportation only becomes available once permanent residence has been acquired, paving the way for more extensive use of deportation powers prior to five years of residence.

Judgements have been passed to extend rights of residence under free movement; however, these have typically been limited in scope. For example, in Coman and others68 the CJEU confirmed that partners in same-sex marriages count as ‘spouses’ under the residency rules in the Citizens’ Rights Directive. Similarly, in Lounes69 the maintenance of free movement rights with regards to the bringing of non-EU spouses once an EU citizen has become naturalised were confirmed by the Court.

Summary

The European Union and its institutions have recently tightened free movement rules, especially with regards to labour and social security.

In particular:

  • Reforms to the Posting of Workers Directive
    • Seeks to prevent undercutting on wages of national workers by those posted by another Member State with lower rates of pay or working conditions
  • The introduction of the Labour Mobility Package (including the establishment of a European Labour Authority and a European Social Security Number)
    • Aims to strengthen enforcement to prevent cross-border labour market abuses
  • Stronger action on external borders and non-EU migration (through establishment of processing centres, greater funds for ‘Frontex’ and border countries, and accelerated return of irregular migrants)
    • Attempts to restrict entry to non-community individuals and to better control any secondary movement through the Schengen Area
  • Rulings of the CJEU (in cases such as Dano et al)
    • Shifted balance away from individual citizen rights and towards rights of the Member States
    • Confirmed the right of Member States to restrict ‘welfare tourism’ and to enforce permanent residence conditions

(2) Conversations with leading politicians in Europe

In recent months a range of European leaders have highlighted the danger of free movement being used as a tool for exploitation, either of workers or of the benefits system of a host country. Then Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher even went so far as to claim ‘support for free movement is crumbling when people see that it turns out to be so unfair’70. The current Vice-Chancellor of Austria, Heinz-Christian Strache, has suggested that ‘we must discuss openly, that it is not all good for European development, that all intellectual, well-educated east European potential is drawn to western Europe’71. Likewise, German MEP Hans-Olaf Henkel has stated that ‘we want to offer Britain the right to stop people who have no jobs entering the country and entering its social welfare system’72.

In light of these statements, Global Future has spoken to a range of politicians and opinion-formers across Europe regarding evolving views on free movement and the scope for reforming EU-wide migration policy, to better inform debate here in the UK.

The discussions centred on the following themes:
  • How developing political realities in one’s own country and across Europe have changed the conversation around free movement
  • How a different application of free movement rules might form part of plans to reform the European Union more widely
  • How the migration crisis will develop in the coming years and the implications for policy on free movement
  • How feasible are the specific changes to free movement which have been suggested in recent years
  • What, if any, additional changes to free movement rules they would like to see, and how these changes would benefit their country and Europe

Below we identify several common threads arising from the responses of interviewees. Ultimately there remains an elite consensus – in line with public support – in favour of the free movement of people across the continent. Where policy-makers favoured reform to the application of free movement, their primary concern was in preventing exploitation – exploitation of workers or of the benefits systems of host countries.

What are the prospects for reform?

We asked policy-makers from across the continent about their views on the prospects for reform of the application of free movement. Peter Hummelgaard is the Speaker on EU Affairs for the Danish Social Democrats and Member of Parliament. Former Chairman of the Young Social Democrats. He suggested that Member States are likely to accept some reform to free movement in the coming years if the public demands it:

“I definitely think there is an appetite for further reform among the populations. I don’t see that appetite seriously in the current political landscape. But that could easily change, a couple of elections here and there…”

“The problem is that many of the sitting governments are now acknowledging that there are problems. It’s a difficult discussion to have, because you will be attacked for being an EU-sceptic, or anti-freedom of movement if you raise that discussion. That holds the discussion back.”

“I could see it moving. I think that it will be for all of those partners that actually want a strong European Union and want a strong Common Market… I think the reforms should be led by them, rather than by future populists and for real EU-skeptic governments, because they will make these changes in a way that will harm more than it will do right.”

This fits with the comments of former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb73, both progressive policy-makers who have called for further discussion on the application of the free movement principle. Lodewijk Asscher is the Leader of the Dutch Labour Party, former Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Minister of Social Affairs and Employment. He hinted that serious discussions on free movement reform have been delayed whilst the EU conducted the Brexit negotiations, so as not to undermine their negotiating position:

“After Brexit, because of the way the UK government has gone about the negotiations and the discussions in the British press, part of the EU has thought ‘let’s swallow or chew on it, but we are not going to change anything now – you have to accept the whole thing’.”

“The effect of Brexit is that the process of thinking of how we would like to change free movement has stopped, because during a negotiation it’s really hard to have an open discussion on what we would like to change, but it was one of the causes of the Brexit vote, and I think Europe should try and improve free movement.”

“Also whether or not with a People’s Vote or further negotiations with maybe a Labour government, there could be some reconciliation between the UK and the EU, which I would certainly hope for…”

The debate ought to be reinvigorated, according to Mr Asscher, in spite of this negotiating position:

“The responsibility for the EU27 has to be to move forward and start thinking about how we would like to change free movement ourselves, without giving it up, or reinstalling national borders, or losing the good things.”

“After the Brexit vote, and now that everyone has seen that the British government is making it such a chaos, support for EU membership has gone up quite substantially in the Netherlands. In the wake of that, support for free movement has also increased, but I think in effect it is really postponing the debate. So once Brexit has taken place, though nobody really knows what’s going to happen, I think the debate will return. I simply hope that we can have a rational debate, and it is not going to be a black-and-white debate of if you want to be inside or outside the EU, because we all want to be inside the EU, but that doesn’t prohibit us from discussing any changes”

Furthermore, Lodewijk Asscher argued for a more collaborative spirit in discussions between the UK and EU, and raised the prospect of closer cooperation on dealing with issues together:

“I think it is really sad that government officials are painting a picture of the EU or of other countries or of other EU people as caricatures, [such as] Jeremy Hunt two days ago. I don’t think that it will be any use to the people in the UK to be told that the EU is a prison, or that the UK is not dealt with fairly. I think it is much better if they realise that we share the same problems, not only on that side of the Channel but in huge parts of Western Europe, and that solutions could be possible within the EU or within a close cooperation with the EU. We should focus on the real solutions.”

“I think most people in Europe are certainly not racist, certainly not anti-foreigners, but want to make a decent living, and have some security. I would hope that the debate in the UK and in the Netherlands and anywhere else could be on what kind of society and what kind of economy we want, and how we should fit migration into that bigger picture.”

“There could be further reforms, especially with the UK.”

Emergency brakes and Swiss-style local employment priority provisions

Wide-scale overhaul of the free movement principle as laid out in some of the models in Part One would likely require treaty change, and so would have to be negotiated by all Member States. The French senator, Jean Bizet, has recently called for an ‘emergency brake’ offer to be made to the UK in order to reverse the Brexit process74. In an interview, he claimed to have ‘no doubt [that] European capitals would accept the introduction of a safeguard clause in which a country closes its borders when the balance of society is judged to be in danger… the Tusk package could come back for discussion. It can be a collective effort by the 27 to keep the UK inside the EU’. However, it is unclear from our interviews that reforms such as a cap on numbers (‘emergency brake’) would command sufficient support across the EU at this moment in time. José Alarcón Hernández is the Spanish Director-General for Migration under Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, and a former adviser on migration policy in the Spanish Congress and to the Secretary of State for Immigration. He described such measures as:

“…sticking plasters for an illness which is not superficial. When one attempts to combat a question like the precarious situation of the labour market by saying that immigrants won’t be able to fill certain jobs, it is destined to fail. They are measures which go more to the heart of voters than towards reason.”

Other interviewees did express an openness to consider exactly these kinds of reforms, albeit in limited and caveated contexts. For example, Lodewijk Asscher stated:

“I think it [the Swiss mechanism] could be positive for Europe more generally, however I don’t like the ‘emergency’ part of the emergency brake, because it once again confirms that there is a tsunami or a big wave of people coming in… Instead of just saying you can’t come anymore, I would much rather have employers pay a decent price and therefore without a doubt some of the migration flows would diminish and stop, because they’re only cost-based, but you wouldn’t have to call it an emergency”

Peter Hummelgaard went somewhat further in arguing specifically for the Swiss mechanism to be rolled out across Europe, and opened the door to a possible UK-specific emergency brake (though emphasised the more urgent need for better national legislation to resolve the problems):

“Personally I think the Swiss employment provision is a fair principle, because it’s basically also about companies have been using foreign recruited labour in order to pressure wages, and you cannot grow a community as a whole if every time you need a worker, you recruit a person from Poland or Bulgaria.”

“I understand why Britain would want an emergency brake mechanism, to see how many from Poland etc. have come to the UK. However I think that Britain just needs a more organised labour market, it needs stronger unions and also more national legislation on why people are there and are they working. You cannot live as a foreign national in Denmark, unless you are there illegally, if you are not part of the workforce or willing to be part of the workforce.”

“What they need is also to have the national legislation. It would be reasonable to discuss an emergency brake given the situation that Britain is in, but what I am also trying to note is that especially the Tory government in 2010 could have nationally done a lot more if they wanted to.”

Given Spain’s importance as a Western European power-broker, it is unlikely that such large-scale reforms will be approved in the immediate future. However, the statements above do suggest an awareness of the UK’s particular questions over free movement, and a willingness to engage constructively in the long-term.

Protecting national workers and recent EU reforms

Sources from across Europe drew attention to the recent EU reforms identified above (‘Recent reforms in the EU and its institutions’), and interpreted the direction of travel as one heading towards ‘a more balanced approach’ to free movement, specifically in the field of undercutting and the protection of workers’ rights. On reforms to the Posted Workers’ Directive, high-ranking sources in the German government expressed their support, claiming:

“We applauded for example the reform of the Posted Workers’ Directive very much… it’s absolutely necessary that we do something there.”

Sandro Gozi is a Member of Parliament for the Italian Democratic Party. He led Italy’s engagement with Europe as Under-Secretary for European Affairs in the cabinet of Matteo Renzi, is a former official at the European Commission, and a current member of the federalist Spinelli Group. He suggested that the adjustments occurred:

“…under internal pressure of our native workers, workers under heavy competition downwards in terms of salary, in terms of welfare conditions of certain workers coming from Eastern Europe – I would say that in the last years we have also tried to develop a more balanced approach.”

On the introduction of the Labour Mobility Package, Mr Gozi stated:

“This package of reforms will take time. It needs a very smart communication policy, and it needs concrete cases where we show to concerned workers that we are on their side, and that there won’t be abuses any more. But I think that the direction is the right one.”

However, the former Europe Minister called for further change to reassure native workers:

“There is still some work to do. There is still the need to prove to some Italian workers, to French workers… that the free movement of people is not placing them at the back of the queue, and is not putting them outside the work system because we allow unfair competition from Eastern Europe.”

Both Lodewijk Asscher and Peter Hummelgaard expressed frustration at inaction on the part of European institutions in the field of workers’ rights, and stated a desire to do much more to protect workers. Lodewijk Asscher stated that:

“One could have a proper debate about free movement, protecting the openness of Europe, protecting the real free movement that you can work wherever you want, but addressing what is in my opinion one of the bigger problems – that migration within the EU is used as a way to compete over costs of labour. That has some big effects, and I think that was never part of the European project or the European promise.”

“It’s really quite irresponsible that this system has now become a business model for some of the bigger European companies, instead of a possibility for free Europeans to go elsewhere and work somewhere.”

“We should have a more principled debate that we just don’t want to use migration as a way of competing on the costs of labour any more within the EU, because it will always lead to disrupting the social fabric of any society receiving this labour, having a downward push to the wage level itself, looking for negative settlements towards migrants”

“We’ve seen that reasonable proposals to attempt labour [reform], for example in Belgium where they wanted to make sure that self-employed people were not really victims, were hampered by the European Court of Law jurisprudence over the past decade or so. If the current way we read free movement prevents us from making clear improvements, then the principle itself comes under suspicion. I like the principle of free movement, I like the idea of being able to travel and work wherever we like, but I think that the most important promise of the EU is of course peace, but also upwards social convergence and progress. That’s the light in which we should take a look at the principle of free movement”

“The current reading… is a very competition-law kind of economic reading of how the principle should be applied. Actually, making some improvements would of course reduce the number of migrants coming to countries like the UK, but not stop the principle itself”

He also considered reforms to the Posted Workers’ Directive to be a valuable first step:

“I’m really happy that those improvements were made. At the beginning that was deemed very unlikely, that the Posting of Workers Directive could be changed anyway, but I think it should be considered a first step, because there are differences in cost for example with the money you have to pay for your pensions or other social benefits are still huge, and so I can see in my own country of the Netherlands that this business model is still in place. So yes, improving the Posting of Workers Directive was important, improving the enforcement directive was important, but it’s not enough.”

Peter Hummelgaard suggested further reform, building on the adjustments to the Posting of Workers Directive:

“It is easier for companies to make shelter companies in other EU countries, then they recruit workers from the working arms on the wages and conditions in either Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia or wherever, but performing the work in Denmark. That’s a bigger problem for social dumping. We’ve tried to do something about that in the recent [reforms to the] Posting of Workers Directive, but we’ve not come far enough.”

“There are many, many changes that I would like to do. Specific legislation whether it’s the Posting of Workers Directive or it is the way we regulate transportation; we have a lot of problems especially with Eastern/Southern European bus drivers and cargo drivers and so forth, driving in Denmark and pressuring down wages and conditions for local drivers. We have a lot of problems of social dumping in the airline business, we have a lot of problems especially still in contracting foreign companies that are building things in Denmark.”

He also pushed for treaty reform to leverage free movement against respect for workers’ rights:

“The major, major change that I would like to see, and that is not in the coming years, but that would be to have an amendment to the Treaty, a Protocol […] as a principle the respect for workers’ conditions, the fundamental rights and wages, should be sidelined with the principles within the Common Market and freedom of movement, so that we would avoid the constant favouring of the principle of freedom of movement over the protection of workers’ rights whenever the ECJ [Court of Justice of the European Union] has to decide on this. There has been some significant rulings that have worsened the collective rights of unions and of workers, and I think that is a fundamental problem in the Common Market.”

The above statements indicate a desire to continue in the ‘right direction’ by attempting to level the playing field on wages and conditions through further reform in the coming years.

Reforming the rules on social security

During the 2016 negotiations, the German Finance Minister of the Social Democratic Party, Olaf Scholz, proposed specific reforms that did not feature in the Cameron-Tusk deal. In particular, remarks made to Die Welt75 and at the 2016 Matthiae-Mahl dinner argued that long-term benefits should only be covered by the receiving Member State once the EU migrant had worked there for one year and had been earning at least the minimum wage. In the meantime, and after one year for migrants who failed to meet the wage and employment condition, the sending Member State would be forced to cover social security contributions. Scholz argued that:

“Free movement means, among other things, being able to choose one’s place of work, but it in no way implies the right to seek out a place to claim social welfare benefits…”

“Free movement is a great achievement. Making it fit for the future is in the interests of all European citizens. Time is short, because if we wait for problems to grow, we will reawaken sentiments of national egotism and weaken Europe. And we cannot afford to do that.”

Lodewijk Asscher argues that debates over benefits tend to distract from more substantive issues:

“The whole language of benefit tourism was deemed to distract from the real problem that it is actually a rightwing conservative agenda to have cheap labour, and then blame the migrants. That’s what I see throughout Europe. I think – tip it the other way round, the burden of proof should be on the employer that the employer is paying at least the same amount of money to social benefit systems, to pensions, in wages, to a migrant worker as he is for a local worker.”

However, a state secretary from a Federal Ministry in Germany indicated that this reform is still a priority, stating that:

“We should probably change the understanding of this principle, and say that if somebody comes from his country to another country, and has a job there that pays him minimum wage full-time employed for one year, that then the other Member State should after this one year should receive him and he should be granted all the benefits that are applicable in the new Member State, so that we really have an assurance that this person actually is a worker, or is actively participating in the labour market.”

“Obviously the other person can come to a Member State, look for a job, and stay here, and so on, but under the social security of his Member State of origin, so that there is no incentive to move to Sweden, Germany, UK, and those countries that have relatively high standards of social security.”

An added benefit of such a reform is its concomitant capacity for reducing the appeal of undeclared work. If EU migrants were to be forced to provide evidence of a year’s working for a wage at or above the minimum wage in order to claim benefits in a Member State, undeclared work or work that undercut local wages would be measurably less effective given its inadmissibility in claims. This could in theory minimise undercutting, and boost tax revenue.

Our interviews raised two additional concerns for wealthier countries with generous social security systems: child benefit payments abroad, and undercutting of wages through bogus self-employment. On the latter point, sources in the German Social Democratic Party argued that:

“It is important not only to limit oneself to freedom of movement, but also to see the right of settlement/freedom of services, because most of the problems that we have here in the cities are not so much the freedom of workers, but the so-called self-employed that for example work as construction auxiliary workers, claiming that they are independent contractual workers, setting up shop, and then offering their labour below minimum wage because they are not employed and so [fall under] no social security.”

On the former point, the German coalition has expressed its wish to index the rate of child benefit payments to the rate paid by the country of residence of the child themselves76 ; this is in line with the provisions of the Cameron-Tusk deal, and with the national law dictating the same measure proposed by the Austrian government in January 201877. At the time, the Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz argued that:

“It is an unfairness built into the system that, for two children who do not even live in Austria but in Romania, roughly 300 euros a month are transferred to Romania and that is almost the average income there.”

Austria’s efforts have been criticised by the European Commission on discrimination78 grounds, and Germany has had little luck in securing EU-wide reform for the measure79. The reform has also been opposed by countries whose citizens generally benefit from more generous social security in other Member States, such as Hungary. However, in the light of the upcoming negotiations over the Multiannual Financial Framework, German sources were optimistic about making progress:

“We need to find pragmatic solutions so that this is not something that drives us apart, and I think that in the end they understand this, they would also damage the system that their people are very much benefiting from.”

The existence of a clear and explicit desire from all major parties in the main financial power in Europe to radically reform the way that free movement rules interact with the coordination of social security systems is significant. It suggests a willingness to roll out major aspects of the 2016 deal across the entire EU, a recognition of public discontent with ‘benefits tourism’, and an engagement with novel reforms including better prevention of bogus self-employment from EU migrants and a prevention of new migrants claiming before they have contributed meaningfully to public finances for at least one year.

Security and terrorism

The government’s own Balance of Competences review of free movement in 2013 – 201480 stated that:

“Free movement within the EU is extensively exploited by organised criminals to bring illicit commodities including drugs, human trafficking victims, illegal immigrants and counterfeit goods to the UK. Spain, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands are key entry and distribution hubs for drugs and other illicit goods before they reach the UK’s shores.”

The fourth section of this report will argue that the UK could take a leading role in European security, ensuring compliance with rules and forcing other countries to fully contribute. However, European interviewees also underlined the need for the EU to do more to control crime and to prevent the free movement of citizens being exploited to allow for the free movement of criminals. Sandro Gozi highlighted the need for better cross-border cooperation and coordination of police and judicial forces:

“There exists the need to further strengthen police cooperation and judicial cooperation. It is absurd that we have free movement of citizens which means that we have free movement of criminals until they are caught, because a criminal is also a citizen…”

“Since early 2016, I think that some important steps ahead have been made, but if there is a free movement of citizens and a free movement of criminals, there must be also a free movement of policemen and judges who are there to ensure our security.”

In addition, Peter Hummelgaard expressed a firm desire to ensure that those who use free movement cannot be tempted into criminality nor deported due to considerations of human rights:

“There are a whole lot of things that can be done to better deal with criminality within free movement. I think that the Directive on whether or not you have a right to stay in a country without having current work – I think that could be reformed.”

“In Northern Europe we have a lot of problems with people travelling from Romania/Bulgaria and staying in Denmark without being actively part of the workforce, begging on the streets, petty crimes, even more organised crimes. We have a problem but our own Human Rights Council in Denmark are saying that when we arrest or convict these people, we cannot send them back to do their sentences in Romanian or Bulgarian prisons because it would violate their human rights because the conditions in these prisons are terrible. That is a joke.”

Free movement in a multi-speed Europe

The future direction of the European project is intrinsically tied to the question of free movement, as such movement forms one of the ‘indivisible’ four pillars of core EU membership. Different models for Europe’s future were proposed in March 2017 White Paper by the European Commission81, and in his September 2017 Sorbonne speech82 President Macron outlined plans for a multi-speed Europe built around concentric circles of integration. Opposition to these plans has been mounted by figures including Roberts Zile, Andrzej Duda, and Andrej Babiš; however, the Slovak Finance Minister Peter Kažimír recently suggested that reform along these lines is ‘inevitable’83.

The Spanish Director General for Migration, José Alarcón Hernández, told us that:

“Our Socialist government has always defended the view that migration policy within the jurisdiction of the EU must be strong and united. That means that with equal regard to the regularisation of internal movement as to the regularisation of movement from third countries to Europe, Europe adopts a single voice. That is incompatible with the existence of different voices and levels, and so I believe that our purpose and our intention is to defend the achievements of the EU, and when the political framework permits it, to try to extend them.”

However, Italy’s former Europe Minister Sandro Gozi advanced a multi-speed model, and envisaged the future architecture of the EU as follows:

“The future of Europe might look like three circles. I would say that it is possible, and I hope, that we have a deepening of integration in principle around the 19 or more countries of the Eurozone…”

“The second circle would be countries who are members of the EU, who are sufficiently satisfied with the single market, but that are reluctant to move ahead into further integration…”

“The third circle (and from this perspective I do believe that the future relationship with UK based on an association agreement can help) is a relation with European countries which do not want, which cannot, or which do not want any more to be a member of the EU. These countries are very different among themselves, but they are in the same legal and political situation. They want to stay close to Europe, but they cannot or do not want to join the EU.”

When pressed on reform to freedom of movement within this model, Sandro Gozi stated:

“I would rule it [full free movement of people] out for the third circle in the foreseeable future. For the second circle, I would certainly be open.”

This is a significant clarification. It indicates that within Gozi’s conception of a multi-speed Europe, a second level of EU membership could be introduced within which free movement in its current form is not compulsory. The Conservative peer Michael Heseltine has recently advocated for a similar solution, striving to form a ‘new pan-European arrangement compatible with President Macron’s concept of concentric circles’84.

External migration and implications for free movement

Stronger controls on Europe’s external borders and the connected status of the Schengen Area has been high on the European agenda for several years. The European Council summit on the 28th June 2018 aimed to provide a long-term strategy for dealing with external migration, though fell short of introducing mandatory quotas on acceptance for refugees. In his 2018 State of the Union speech, President Juncker proposed a series of measures to facilitate the dealing of Member States with external migration, either regular, irregular, or via asylum. In particular, the Commission outlined plans for a strengthening in funds and numbers for EU border agents (‘Frontex’), support for the European Asylum Support Office, and financial help to accelerate the return of irregular migrants. Furthermore, the programme for the Austrian Presidency of the European Council states that:

“Strengthening both external and internal security and ensuring the freedom of movement within the Schengen Area requires resilient protection of the EU’s external borders and efficient entry and exit controls”85.

José Alarcón Hernández suggested that the political context has become much more difficult in the past two years:

“The context of the immigration debate has changed a lot, and it has changed radically in the type of concerns. From my point of view, whereas the focus before used to be on causes, consequences, needs, problems, or a politics focussed on integration and migrant flows, now the debate has become focussed on borders and the control of irregular migration.”

He nonetheless welcomed the reforms, and made clear the willingness on the part of the Spanish government to strengthen the EU’s external border and return those with no legal right to enter European territory:

“These recent proposals aim to satisfy those countries who are requesting more protection, hence why they are providing more police forces and strengthening Frontex. As the Spanish government, we have nothing against the provision of more European police to help border controls, and we have no problem, but quite the opposite, in accelerating the cycle of repatriations when they come with guarantees.”

“We have no complex about saying that when a person arrives in a country and they have no right to be there, they must be returned to their country of origin.”

Sandro Gozi explicitly connected external migration to free movement:

“The biggest challenge today in Europe is migration, and free movement is very linked to that.”

“The migration crisis has massively affected the views of organised citizens regarding free movement and Schengen.”

Mr Gozi argued that:

“The real change we need is effective external border control, which is the only way that we can save Schengen, which means freedom of movement. This is the most urgent policy decision and implementation that the EU must take…”

“In a moment of fear, in a Europe of fear, in the midst of a very heated debate on migration, I think that this kind of message could be a message which would ring a bell for ordinary citizens.”

The need for the EU to manage external migration better, and its connecting impact on free movement, was underscored by Lodewijk Asscher:

“If migration is not regulated in a decent, smart way, it will continue to put pressure on open borders and on open societies, because people will ask for some level of control or regulation, and if it is part of being within Schengen or within the EU that you do not have that control or autonomy yourself, membership of the EU or Schengen could come under pressure.”

“Part of the larger picture is that the EU or Schengen has to step up, come up with a more European system of asylum-seeking and regulated migration, in order to restore the sense of control and therefore to protect free movement and open and tolerant cooperation within those borders.”

High-ranking sources in the German government suggested reducing the flow of young migrants from Africa to Europe by increasing investment in opportunities in the countries of origin, a position similarly advocated for by Michael Heseltine86:

“All these young people that come in from Africa to Germany or other northern European Member States through the shores of Spain or Italy before that, many of them are not really protected by the Geneva Convention or European asylum or the asylum provisions in the German Constitution, but they are young people full of hope and expectations. Because of their lack of formal skills and knowledge of German they would never ever fall under the very liberal migration laws for skilled labour that we have. Neither is the asylum system really working for them…”

“You will always have migration… but can’t we find something that we can offer these African people like grants or studentships or vocational training… so that we relieve the pressure on our asylum system?”

“Intellectually we have to find a solution, what we can actually offer to those young people from Africa – and to their governments. If we want to engage the countries in origin in taking back their people, we need to offer them something. As of now, the remittances of ‘their’ people in Europe contribute to the influx of dollars and Euros. A cooperation with Europe to take back people without a ‘compensation’ will be difficult to achieve.”

A position paper on migration presented on 4th October 2018 by the Austrian Interior Minister, Herbert Kickel, and the Danish Minister for Integration, Inger Stojberg87, features as its second goal the very same point:

“Help to create perspectives in regions of origin instead of enabling irregular migration to Europe: Reinforce global support to countries of first reception, including by improving economic opportunities and livelihoods, both for refugees and host communities, in order to enhance protection and minimize the need for onward irregular movement.”

Lodewijk Asscher agreed:

“It’s absolutely necessary to change the rules that allow for the current trade benefits for the EU to have a more fair development in Africa, because it is all about development and people looking for opportunity elsewhere, but also to make sure that we as the EU invest in prospects really in Africa, not just in help or emergency aid but in prospects for women and girls, in education, for setting up SME businesses…”

The UK could and should do more

Where individual politicians and representatives from Member States differed in their view on many of the reforms suggested above, they were unanimous on one point – that the UK has failed to implement the controls on free movement open to Member States and enshrined within the Citizens’ Rights Directive. Sandro Gozi stated that:

“It is really odd that the UK hasn’t introduced compulsory registration for EU citizens/ID cards, or enforced the 3-month rule, as we do in Italy and other countries. They help us to keep control of free movement within the rules.”

Similarly, Sandro Gozi identified the UK’s decision to forego the implementation of transitional controls on the EU-8 accession countries in 2004 as a major factor behind the country’s particular concern over levels of intra-EU migration:

“There is more that the UK could have done to manage freedom of movement. In 2004 when there was the transition period to allow the control of free movement of people which Italy for example used, and other countries used it even more, the decision of the UK not to use that has proved to be a political mistake, because it has increased the concern of the UK citizens. Probably if we had to go back, I think that the UK would have used the possibility of getting a transition period before allowing the full free movement of workers from Eastern Europe to UK.”

Lodewijk Asscher agreed with this view, and considered the UK’s lax approach to worker protections and its non-contributory social assistance system as areas for future reform, alongside better EU regulations on the importing of cheap labour:

“There is absolutely more the UK could have done to manage free movement. First of all, by not really regulating the flows after 2004, the Labour government at that time took a huge risk. Second, there are a lot of protections that are not in place in the UK that could be just on the national level. Third, the system of social contributions in the UK has some perverse effects. The way employers are asked to contribute is different for example to the Netherlands and some other countries where it’s really normal that you have paid into the system before you get some of the benefits, not discriminatory but for all for the people working here. So yes, I think the UK could do much more, but even after they would have done that, I think it is necessary to have some changes in EU law to make sure that you would end the system of competition among workers.”

Likewise, Peter Hummelgaard argued that the introduction of ID cards and a better regulated labour market would have been both legal and effective in resolving the doubts of citizens:

“In Denmark we have an ID card system, we have tried with all our national means to regulate social dumping, as much as we can. Of course we need better EU rules for doing that, but there has been more that a national government can do if it wants to do it.”

“In the case of the UK, the Conservative government didn’t try to do anything to try to fight against social dumping, not at all, but actually the contrary. I think they were very happy. They built their campaign for Leave on the resentment against social dumping, but in fact many Tory supporters were happy for getting cheaper workers.”

“Britain just needs a more organised labour market, it needs stronger unions and also more national legislation on why people are there and are they working. You cannot live as a foreign national in Denmark, unless you are there illegally, if you are not part of the workforce or willing to be part of the workforce.”

“What they need is also to have the national legislation. It would be reasonable to discuss an emergency brake given the situation that Britain is in, but what I am also trying to note is that especially the Tory government in 2010 could have nationally done a lot more if they wanted to.”

José Alarcón Hernández argued that the UK’s light-touch system of labour market regulation had facilitated the large influx of EU labour:

“The way to regulate the flow of workers is to intervene as governments do in the labour market. That is to say that when a government manages to secure an adequate labour market and working conditions and the workers are happy with what they are being paid and feel valued, normally there is no need for foreign workers to come and fill roles that native workers do not desire.”

“There are unemployed people for whom it is not worth accepting certain types of jobs because they are very arduous, very poorly paid, or because they have precarious conditions or are only temporary.”

It is clear that a debate exists on the continent over the future of specific elements of free movement, and that different Member States have different priorities for future adjustments. However, policy-makers are united in their surprise that the UK has failed to implement the kind of sensible and legal controls used by other Member States to ensure that free movement serves the national interest.

Part Three
The best of the rest – what the UK can learn from other European nations in managing migration

(1) Where the UK could do more

Monitoring and security: Data on migration flows

The current recording system within the UK relies on a multiplicity of sources. The principal source for information is the International Passenger Survey (IPS), conducted through the random questioning of passengers passing through ports of entry to determine their intentions when visiting the country. As the Home Affairs Select Committee point out, the IPS has proved to be ‘inadequate’ for the purpose of measuring net migration88; it takes an extremely small sample size and extrapolates the data for the entirety of the UK, and the nationwide sample equates to just over 1% of Heathrow’s annual traffic of 78 million people89. It is not designed to deal with short-term migration, and immigration numbers for some nationalities are much lower than National Insurance number registrations90. Furthermore, as Professor Jonathan Portes has demonstrated, the IPS substantially overestimated the rate of non-EU student migration over several years91.

The other important sources for migration statistics are National Insurance number records themselves, and administration data92. These are subject to clear limitations; migrants (EEA and non-EEA alike) have no need of NI numbers if they neither work nor claim benefits, and NI numbers are not cancelled when a person temporarily or permanently leaves the country. The Office for National Statistics have only begun to use administration data and other Home Office records from this year, and are due to report this Autumn on plans for more effective use going forward; however, as the Migration Observatory signal, reconciling differences between these data sources is a task fraught with problems and difficulties93.

In addition, the UK requires those travelling by air to provide Advanced Passenger Information (API) featuring personal and travel document details, and obliges carriers to supply Passenger Name Record (PNR) data including ticket information, passenger contact details, and method of payment94. Furthermore, from 2015 the Home Office have imposed a system of exit checks to collect passport/ID card data on those leaving the country by sea or by rail. However, when applied to EEA citizens these information channels are only useful in alerting the Home Office Semaphore system to those who ought to be denied entry. Due to the explicit ban on a visa regime within European legislation95, the UK government can only check API/PNR and travel document data against security databases; it cannot ingest the data into the Initial Status Analysis (ISA) used to collect statistics on non-EEA migrants.

Monitoring and security: Lack of a comprehensive identification system

The UK is currently the only country within the EU to lack a national ID system; identity verification is instead based on an incoherent mix of official documentation such as passports, driving licenses, national insurance numbers, and existence on the electoral roll, as well as utility bills and post directed to a home address. This creates a significant burden for individuals who must possess and present various documents, as well as Government agencies and private companies who need to perform identity checks.

The current system of ‘siloed’ government identity databases is highly inefficient, with duplication, overlap, and contradiction in identity assurance96, and facilitates fraud by allowing multiple access points. The Windrush Crisis has also shown that without a universal identity system, significant numbers of citizens can fall off government systems and become unable to access the support that they urgently need and are entitled to. The new Gov. uk Verify system has sought to address some of these problems but is presently limited in scale.

The lack of a central UK population register contributes to the poor quality of migration data, with Government unable to accurately track migrant numbers nor where they live97. This has made it impossible to properly allocate resources to local authorities to manage migration pressures98, and contributed to a sense that migration is inadequately controlled99.

The lack of a digital ID system causes significant costs for British businesses. Right to work checks are slow and expensive for employers100, while banks spend billions annually performing mandated Know-Your-Customer identity proofing and verification checks101. A universal digital identity system could perform such checks to a high level of assurance in seconds102, resulting in huge savings for the private sector that could in part be used to fund a new ID system.

The identity cards act 2006 – a false start

ID cards have been attempted before. In 2006 the Labour Government passed the Identity Cards Act, but in 2010 the scheme was abolished. While some polls indicated that the National Identity Scheme retained majority public approval103, support had fallen significantly in the face of fierce opposition across parliament and the press104. Concerns focused in particular on cost and civil liberties105.

The original ID cards scheme suffered from a lack of clarity of purpose, while granting major new powers to the state. The LSE Identity Project argued that ‘the identity cards scheme, with its multiple purposes, is still focused on making it easier for the Home Office to collect information on each citizen rather than making it easy for the citizen to assert rights over their identity information.’

Secondly, the National Identity Register behind the initial ID cards was too extensive and access too broad. The 2006 Act specified no fewer than 50 categories of information that the National Identity
Register could hold on each citizen, including fingerprints, digitised facial and iris scans, all current and past places of residence and indexes to other government databases. Home Office forecasts106 envisaged 265 government bodies and up to 48,000 accredited private sector groups would have had access to the database. A major government data breach in 2007 also undermined trust in the ability of the government to keep this data secure.

Thirdly, the cost of the programme was not accurately forecast. As implementation was repeatedly delayed107, estimates of the construction and 10-year maintenance cost of the National Identity Scheme rose by hundreds of millions of pounds, eventually settling at approximately £5bn108.

Finally, initial uptake was very slow: just 14,670 cards were issued in the first seven months of their availability. The cards gave little additional functionality for citizens to justify a price of £30.

Monitoring and security: Crime and terrorism

Control is ‘closely linked’ by many to the demand for security checks and criminal vetting of EU nationals making use of free movement109. At present the UK is a member of various EU security systems including Europol, the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS), and the Schengen Information System II (SIS II), all of which allow the UK to detect and deport criminals, and to prevent them from entering the country (under specific circumstances laid out in the legislation above).

However, the UK has failed to fully engage with these systems. For example, the sharing of DNA, fingerprint, and vehicle registration data of criminals between Member States was facilitated by the controls enshrined in the Prüm Convention (and subsequently the Prüm Decision adopted by the European Council in 2008). In 2013 the Conservative government opted out of the Prüm controls as part of its block opt-out of police and judicial cooperation measures post-Lisbon Treaty110. In 2015 the UK government stated its intention to rejoin Prüm; however, it has not yet been able to negotiate access, with an EU official reportedly suggesting that the UK wished to exclude suspects’ DNA files from the system111. Similarly, an evaluation of the UK’s use of SIS II in November 2017 revealed serious non-compliances, including a risk to the integrity of the system’s data, a selective approach to input, and outdated IT infrastructure not compliant with requirements112.

Pressure on public services and the benefits system

Three characteristics create a serious challenge for the UK which combines a largely non-contributory welfare system113, free at the point of use healthcare, and no universal registration or ID system capable of efficiently establishing the right to social entitlements. Public opinion research consistently finds that the British public are concerned about unfair or preferential access to public services114.

Any EEA citizen may register for free primary care with a local GP, with no obligation to provide identification or proof of address115. This approach ensures the health system is free at the point of use, and open to UK citizens with no such identification (e.g. many rough sleepers); however, it also allows EU citizens to register without providing ID, nor an EHIC to ensure their own Member State compensates the NHS for costs.

The Government has sought to tighten access to public services through the so-called ‘hostile environment’ which introduced requirements for landlords, the NHS, charities, community interest companies and banks
to carry out ID checks. However, in the absence of a universal ID system to provide easy and reliable identification, the hostile environment has had severe problems with accuracy and errors, and has caused many people lawfully resident in the UK to be denied access to essential services, most notably members of the Windrush generation. Furthermore, the obligation of public sector workers to check users’ documents and disclose their immigration status has threatened professional relationships with users that rely on trust and confidentiality, particularly in the NHS. The hostile environment has also undermined trust in public agencies due to fears that information will be shared with the Home Office, leading to under-reporting of crime, particularly domestic violence, and patients not seeking treatment over fears they will face large fines or be deported. A universal ID system would make identification a basic aspect of life for everyone, as it is in liberal democracies across Europe from Sweden to Spain, and would formalise ID requirements, eliminating the widely-documented disparity in requirements faced by those who do not immediately present as white British.

Fairness in the labour market: Regulation and enforcement

The most effective ways to prevent the undercutting of wages or conditions is through a strong regime of labour market regulation and enforcement. The UK has the second-most flexible labour market in Europe, and the fourth-most flexible amongst OECD countries, behind only Denmark, the United States, and Japan116. This flexibility has been heralded by the CBI as essential for the country’s economic growth117; however, it has also led to the proliferation of zero-hours contracts (rising from 108,000 in 2004 to 901,000 in 2017118), contractual provisions to waive a right to the Working Time Directive, and a reluctance to tackle questionable self-employment claims in the gig economy. As the legal scholar Professor Judy Fudge points out, recent legislation such as the 2016 Immigration Act has been borne out of a struggle to resolve this specific tension between the ‘British way’ of light touch labour market regulation and deteriorating conditions for workers119.

Submissions to Select Committee inquiries demonstrate that positions with unfavourable working conditions are disproportionately occupied by migrants, often from the EU, who are posted by agencies or simply more willing to accept lower standards of employment. The manufacturers’ association EEF suggest that UK workers are less willing to accept temporary contracts compared to their EU counterparts120; likewise, Toyota Manufacturing Ltd told the Migration Advisory Committee that EU migrants are more willing to accept flexible contracts121, and as the CIPD has stated, ‘zero-hours and flexible contracts are particularly common in production and service jobs, where migrants predominate’122. The CIPD also acknowledge the difficulties in recruiting local people for jobs with low pay, difficult conditions at work, anti-social hours, and geographical immobility. The UK’s flexible labour market facilitates the existence of such jobs through contractual opt-outs from the Working Time Directive, as new workers feel unable to protest when presented with contracts with such provisions already built in.

The rapidly expanding gig economy creates new concerns – most notably around employee status. The government’s response to the Taylor Review stopped short of changing the law on the use of self-employment, preferring instead to launch a consultation123. It has fallen to the employment tribunals to rule on the rights of groups including drivers of private hire vehicles (PHV) to paid holiday, sick pay, and a consistent minimum wage. However, such individuals still lack ‘employee’ status and the concomitant package of worker protections which that entails.

Reforms to the Posted Workers’ Directive aim to prevent undercutting by ending the practice of paying reduced wages to posted workers from abroad124. However, in addition, European countries already adopt a range of stricter labour market practices that establish a base standard of social rights acceptable to workers of the relevant Member State.

In the UK, responsibility for upholding labour market standards falls to a plethora of different governmental agencies, dependent upon industry and individual market abuse. The principal enforcement agencies are as follows:

  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – inspects businesses in at-risk sectors and those judged to be at-risk due to intelligence and information
  • Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) – regulates businesses providing workers to the fresh produce supply chain and horticulture industry
  • Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI) – oversees the actions of employment agencies throughout the UK
  • HMRC National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage (NMW/NLW) – enforces payment of the minimum and living wage throughout the UK

The Home Affairs Select Committee has questioned the effectiveness of the current regime. EASI employs only 9 inspectors to cover the entire country, has a budget of only £725,000125, and last year conducted 142 inspections out of the 18,000 agencies that it covers (less than 1%)126. Despite introducing a ‘name and shame’ system for employers paying under the National Minimum Wage in February 2014, only three out of 700 firms were prosecuted up to 2016127.

Fairness in the labour market: Training and skills

Productivity in the UK is 25% lower than in Germany. The Migration Advisory Committee found that ‘within occupations, EEA migrants are better educated than their UK-born counterparts’128. 33% of manufacturers surveyed by the EEF stated that they recruit EU nationals because the skills required are unavailable among UK nationals, rising to 61% for professional roles. Important amongst these are language skills, cited by 15% of respondents, and soft employability skills, such as proactivity, commitment, and ambition129.

Since 2017, the UK has experienced the largest ever fall in EU national workers, with 86,000 fewer working in the British market than this time last year130. This has led to a significant tightening in the labour market, as employers report that labour supply is failing to keep pace with demand – 66% of employers report that they are struggling to fill vacancies. The explanation for this may lie in poor labour conditions, but it likely also involves skills shortages amongst UK nationals – 37% of employers with difficulty filling vacancies attributing that difficulty to unsuitable candidates. This is especially true in sectors perceived as low-skilled but are can more accurately be classed as medium-skilled; many posts in transport and construction, for example, require qualifications and significant experience. In these medium-skilled jobs, employers report a drop in applications from 19 to 10 applicants per role.

A better trained workforce across all skill levels (but especially low-to-medium levels) would help UK workers compete in a global economy, without causing the sorts of sharp labour supply issues seen since 2017. Changing the landscape of British skills would require several years to implement; to take just one example in a crowded field that spans from healthcare to hospitality, the Food Standards Agency state that it would take eight years to train UK nationals to fill the 95% of positions currently taken by EEA nationals in meat processing factories.

The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced by the UK government in April 2017 as part of an effort to ensure that 3 million people are beginning apprenticeships by 2020. The scheme attempts to replicate levy schemes in practice in other countries (e.g. France) by forcing employers with an annual wage bill in excess of £3 million to contribute 0.5% towards apprenticeships.

The money can subsequently be claimed back by employers in the form of vouchers to use for training and assessment of apprentices. However, the implementation of the scheme has been widely criticised from the EEF to the Institute of Directors. Just 14% of employers paying the levy believe it to be fit for purpose, and the 3 million target131 appears to be headed for the long grass.

Integration

The money spent by central government on integration per migrant has fallen from £8 in 2009 to £5.63 in 2017132; meanwhile, funding for ESOL courses has fallen from £203 million in 2009-2010 to £90 million in 2016-2017. The Controlling Migration Fund (CMF) was launched in 2016 with a fund of just £140 million for the period 2016-2017 to 2019-20, £100 million of which was reserved for projects to aid integration and £40 million for immigration enforcement. The yearly all-round spend of £25 million on integration projects is stretched to cover such a range of issues (including rogue landlords) that the Home Affairs Select Committee133 amongst others have questioned its potential to make any impact whatsoever.

Similarly, the CMF operates a slow bidding process to release funds, with an application form requiring several thousand words in writing and complex scoring criteria for proposals134. In addition, it can only release money to local councils, meaning that primary healthcare and academy schools fall outside of its remit. The government have argued that mainstream funding is responsive to changes in population; however the Home Affairs Select Committee remain ‘unconvinced… that the scope of the CMF is sufficient to address the additional pressures that rapid increases in population as a result of immigration can place on local public services or that conventional channels of public spending are sufficiently responsive to such increased demands’.

The Casey Review identified a number of failings in the UK’s integration offer, some of which are acknowledged in the government’s Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper (through a review of ESOL provision, a renewed focus on empowering female immigrants, and a review on allocations of housing). As Dame Louise Casey states, the UK’s laissez-faire approach to integration has meant that ‘for generations we have welcomed immigrants to the UK but left them to find their own way in society while leaving host communities to accommodate them and the growing diversity of our nation’135. At a time when 760,000 people aged 16+ in England are recorded as unable to speak English well or at all in the 2011 census136, and hate crime rises by 29% in one year alone137, this philosophy looks unsustainable.

Summary

Where the UK could do more:

  • Monitoring and security
    • Outdated migration data sources widely considered inadequate for tracking flows of EEA/non-EEA citizens in and out of the UK
    • Mix of different ID systems leading to overlapping and inaccurate central government databases, and difficulties for UK and non-UK citizens alike in obtaining documents and proving identity
    • Use of European security systems widely accepted to be substandard, featuring outdated IT infrastructure, poor data input, and lack of access to DNA-sharing Prüm controls
  • Pressure on public services and the benefits system
    • Tension between a non-contributory welfare system, universal and free at the point of delivery and the lack of a universal registration or ID system capable of efficiently establishing the right to social entitlements, contributing to public concerns about fair access by non-UK nationals
    • Individuals with a lawful right to reside and access services denied by lack of acceptable documentation e.g. the Windrush generation’
  • Fairness in the Labour Market
    • Limited protection against exploitative zero-hours contracts, lack of controls on the gig economy and opt-outs from the Working Time Directive.
    • Minimal funding for various labour enforcement bodies and low inspection rates
    • Serious skills shortage amongst UK workers compounded by inefficacy of the Apprenticeship Levy
  • Integration
    • Cuts in funding for integration and English-language courses
    • Limited scope and funding for the Controlling Migration Fund (CMF) and lack of direct support for frontline public services
    • Laissez-faire approach leaving many without the ability to speak English

(2) Lessons from Europe on how to control free movement

The UK can learn much from its European counterparts on how to protect national workers in the labour market, ensure integrated communities in areas of migration pressure, and identify all EU citizens to prevent illegal access to services and to keep a better check of who comes in and out of the country.

Monitoring and security – Data and migration flows (Belgium)

For short stays under 3 months in Belgium, EU citizens and their family must report their presence at the town hall; for stays over 3 months, these citizens must for- mally register, demonstrating that they are exercising treaty rights under the Citizens’ Rights Directive (i.e. they are working, or job-seeking, are self-employed, or possess comprehensive sickness insurance and sufficient resources to support themselves). If they fail to register, the respective citizen may incur a €200 fine. After registering, a local police officer will conduct a house call to verify address, including checks that the address is the citizen’s actual place of residence. Once confirmed, the EU citizen will be assigned a national register number and an e-ID card used to access key services.

Monitoring and security – ID cards (Estonia)

Identity cards are the norm across the EU. Below is a comparative list of the policies of Member States on registration and ID schemes:

Fig 1.
Member stateCompulsory notification/registration of EEA nationalsNational ID SystemsDocumentation given to EEA resIDents
AustriaYesYes optionalRegistration certificate compulsory, ID optional
BelgiumYesYes compulsoryRegistration certificate compulsory, ID optional
BulgariaYesYes compulsoryRegistration certificate compulsory
CroatiaYesYes compulsoryRegistration certificate compulsory
CyprusYesYes compulsoryRegistration certificate compulsory
Czech RepublicYes initial notification within 30 days, optional formal registration for stays > 3 monthsYes compulsoryRegistration certificate optional
DenmarkYesYes optionalRegistration certificate compulsory
EstoniaYesYes compulsoryID card compulsory
FinlandYesYes optionalRegistration certificate compulsory
FranceNo but required for access to health/social securityYes optionaloptional carte de séjour
GermanyYes notification within 14 days of moving into a property for stays > 3 yesYes compulsoryN/A
GreeceYesYes compulsoryRegistration certificate compulsory
HungaryYesYes optionalResidency card compulsory
IrelandNo initial notification within 30 daysYes public services card and optional passport cardN/A
ItalyYesYes compulsoryRegistration permit compulsory/ID optional
LatviaYesYes optionalID card compulsory
LithuaniaYesYes optionalRegistration certificate compulsory
LuxembourgYesYes compulsoryRegistration certificate compulsory
MaltaYesYes compulsoryRegistration certificate compulsory, ID card optional
NetherlandsYes initial notification to local municipality for stays > 4 monthsYes optionalRegistration permit compulsory
PolandYesYes compulsoryRegistration certificate compulsory
PortugalYesYes compulsoryRegistration certificate/card compulsory
RomaniaYesYes compulsoryRegistration certificate compulsory
SlovakiaYesYes compulsoryRegistration certificate compulsory
SloveniaYesYes optionalResidence card
SpainYesYes compulsoryCompulsory Residence card
SwedenYes enter into population register for stays > 1 yearYes optionalN/A
United KingdomNo optional registrationNoRegistration certificate optional

Identity card programmes are also increasingly being digitised, with countries like Belgium, Germany, and Estonia rolling out electronic identity cards that link to a central register and connected databases.

Estonia has one of the most advanced identity card systems in the world. Estonian ID cards serve as both a physical identity document and an electronic identity. Each card contains a chip that enables authentication – proving who the holder is, and authorisation – digitally signing documents and making payments. Asked to authenticate a user, the service concerned queries a central database to check that the card and relevant code match. It asks for only the minimum information needed: to check a customer’s age, for example, it does not ask, “How old is this person?” but merely, “Is this person over 18?”

Estonia has also introduced phone-based equivalents for the ID card. These are app-based (smart-ID) or use the SIM cards of phones to contain the e-ID digital signatures (mobile-ID) and run on 90% of phones. Users can then sign in to services using their mobile phone number.

The digital integration of Estonian ID cards enables a broad range of uses. Estonian ID cards can be used as a National Driver’s License, as a passport within the EU, a national health insurance card, and to instantly access medical records such as when picking up a prescription. A wide variety of public services are integrated with the Estonian e-ID system, including paying taxes, healthcare services, ‘e-school’, and online voting. Estonian ID cards can be used for travel on public transport in some cities; card holders purchase a ticket or weekly pass in advance online and if a transport inspector wants to check that they have paid, they can scan ID cards to find out. The e-ID system also offers quick and secure right to work checks and seamless worker registration for tax and insurance purposes. In all, the Estonian state offers 600 e-services to its citizens and 2,400 to businesses that are integrated with its ID card system138.

This identity assurance is also used commercially. All major banks in Estonia and many web services support ID card-based authentication and the Estonian ID card is used widely in loyalty schemes at supermarkets and shops. Business registration is also integrated with the e-ID system and it takes just 18 minutes to start a company in Estonia139.

Monitoring and security – Crime and terrorism (Spain)

Between 2005 and 2010 Spain made use of DNA cooperation under the Prüm system to establish hundreds of positive matches for crimes with other signatory countries, including for robbery and for terrorism140. Furthermore, the 2017 statistics on SIS II usage show that Spain takes a far more active role in contributing towards the security systems that keep Europe safe. Despite the fact that it accessed the system at similar levels to the UK, Spain created over 6 million more alerts and updated its queries over 550,00 more times than the UK. This allows for effective knowledge-sharing across Member States, and ensures that criminals from all countries can be tracked and processed as soon as possible, irrespective of the individual state in which they find themselves.

Pressure on public services and the benefits system (Estonia)

The UK is the only country within the European Union to lack a national ID system. It is common practice across Europe and within progressive and liberal Member States to require the provision of some form of ID proving right of residency to gain access to public services and entitlements. Countries like Portugal and Denmark have rolled out new biometric e-residence permits that are used to verify that an individual has the right to reside and entitlement to benefits and public services, and the EU has recommended that all remaining 27 Member States roll out similar e-permits that comply with electronic European Residence Permit specifications141. European countries like Belgium, Sweden, Latvia, and Estonia have integrated digital verification of access to services with registration on a central population register.

Closer to the UK, Ireland has rolled out a Public Services Card to determine entitlement to public services that is fully digitally integrated with ‘MyGovID’ accounts that enable online access to public services with two-factor authentication. This system has been a success, meeting its target of more than 3 million sign-ups by the end of 2017 according to the Irish Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Estonia has a highly efficient and user-friendly system of access to public services. A form of the Estonian national identity card is compulsory for permanent residents and EU/EEA citizens temporarily residing in Estonia aged 15 or over. It is necessary to be enrolled on the Population Register of Estonia to live and work in Estonia and access Estonian health insurance, social support, and the right to use many other public services. For example, registration of place of residence in Estonia is necessary become eligible for health insurance.

Once enrolled onto Estonian e-ID system, individuals can register and access public services from central state e-services portal. For example, to register with a GP in Estonia, individuals sign in to the e-services portal, then connect to the Health Board or which then displays which GP is closest to their place of residence, and finally select and apply to be on the practice list of the doctor using this portal. Appointments can then be booked online, and health insurance is checked on the basis of an individual’s ID code. Children, pensioners, and the disabled are automatically enrolled.

Fig 2.

Source: Peter Herlihy (Government Digital Service), ‘Government as a data model’: what I learned in Estonia, October 2013

Fairness in the labour market – Regulation and enforcement (France, Germany, Switzerland and others)

Zero-hours contracts are banned in France for the majority of workers; a minimum of 24 hours work per week is guaranteed for part-time contracts, with limited exceptions for students, agency workers, and other employees requesting fewer hours. Likewise, German labour law requires that a worker’s contract specifies the duration of weekly and daily hours – if no such duration is specified, a minimum of 10 weekly working hours and 3 consecutive hours per day is established respectively142. Many EU countries have a blanket ban on opt-outs from the provisions of the Working Time Directive (e.g. Portugal), and many more only allow such opt-outs under certain limited circumstances (e.g. Spain). ID cards listing employment status minimise the risk of bogus self-employment in countries such as Switzerland (non-EU), and have strengthened public support for migration143.

Swiss law dictates that at least 2% of all employers (and 3% in high-risk sectors) and 50% of posted workers and foreign self-employed workers must be inspected by labour authorities every year. In 2016 this target was only partially met, though the rate of inspection was still high. On individual controls, 3.5% of all employed people had their wages and employment conditions checked144; this compares to a rate of only 0.2% amongst the National Minimum Wage enforcement team in the UK145. Furthermore, in sectors with binding collective agreements the inspections are the responsibility of bipartite commissions of employers and trade unions in sectors covered by binding collective agreements. Social partner-conducted inspections are perceived as more legitimate, reinforced through the publication of an annual report on controls146.

Fairness in the labour market: Training and skills (Denmark/Hungary)

Denmark has the highest participation in adult education and continuing training in the EU-28147, and its vocational education and training (VET) schemes are devised by the Ministry of Education in conjunction with national trade councils who advise the government on labour market needs. VET is organised into four entry routes: care, health and pedagogy; office, trade and business services; food, agriculture, and ‘experiences’; and technology, construction and transportation. The country has recently established a high-quality ‘EUX’ programme, lasting around four years, which enables ambitious students to secure a vocational qualification and access to university through a single track.

Denmark also maintains an apprenticeship levy – however, all companies contribute a fixed amount annually (currently 2702 Danish Krone148) to a central fund regardless of their involvement in VET. Enterprises are partially reimbursed for providing training placements and for employee participation in continuing training, and apprenticeships are subsidised within the AUB system (Arbejdsgivernes Uddannelses Bidrag). There are no time limits on employers securing reimbursements, and apprentices can claim up to 80% of the cost of travel within Denmark, and travel and living costs if completing part of the training abroad149.

Hungary offers tax deductions from the cost of materials incurred in student training that are scaled higher in vocations with a labour shortage, in an attempt to respond to labour supply problems. Germany and Spain devolve powers over skills to the Lander and the Autonomous Communities respectively.

Integration (Germany)

Integration is a national priority in Germany. The Federal Chancellery runs annual ‘integration summits’ in conjunction with representatives of the federal states, businesses, trade unions and migrants’ organisations to devise solutions around a specific theme, such as German language provision or access to employment.

Run by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, an extended programme of subsidised integration courses (integrationskurse) are mandatory for non-EEA migrants and available to German and EEA citizens alike, with fee exemptions for those claiming various types of social assistance. These provide a mixture of language instruction and cultural orientation classes to assimilate new and existing residents to German norms, and include a free final examination to give participants a recognised certificate of integration and a minimum language level of B1. In addition, the Migration Advice Service for Adult Immigrants (MBE) provides one-to-one advisers to resolve issues and to help migrants locate relevant services, including cost-appropriate language lessons.

Summary

Tools used by countries across Europe:

  • Monitoring and security
    • Compulsory registration of EU citizens resident for over three months (Belgium)
    • e-ID cards (Estonia)
    • Full implementation of Prüm controls and engagement in EU crime systems (Spain)
  • Pressure on public services and the benefits system
    • Requirement to present valid ID to access public services and social assistance (Estonia)
    • Online platform linked to e-ID to book appointments and conduct engagements with public services and administration (Estonia)
  • Fairness in the labour market
    • Strong regulation to limit use of Working Time Directive opt-outs and zero-hours contracts (France, Germany, Switzerland)
    • Effective enforcement of labour abuses through regular and targeted inspections with floor limits on annual inspection rates (Switzerland)
    • Respected vocational training routes with clear access to higher education, support for overseas training, and a functioning Apprenticeship Levy (Denmark)
    • Targeted tax incentives for training in at-risk sectors, and devolved skills provision (Hungary, Germany, Spain)
  • Integration
    • Annual integration summits with central government, federal states, business, trade unions, and migrant organisations (Germany)
    • Integration courses and one-to-one migration advisers (Germany)

Part Four
Real action to address public concerns within existing rules.

The UK can address public concerns around immigration within existing free movement rules. The most effective strategies from Europe could and should be adapted and employed in the UK, without discarding the significant benefits afforded to the UK through our close relationship with the EU.

The UK is the only country in the EU not to employ a national ID system – this is a mistake that prevents the UK from better controlling free movement. This should be rectified as quickly as possible, and sit at the centre of a new approach.

A new approach to free movement
  • Monitoring and security: Introduce an electronic ID Card with compulsory registration for anyone staying more than 90 days, giving government up to date information on who is living and working in the UK
  • Pressure on public services and the benefits system: Make a valid e-ID Card a requirement to live, work and access public services and benefits, and use it to release extra funding for public services in areas experiencing surges in migration
  • Fairness in the Labour Market: Proper enforcement squads to crack down on unscrupulous businesses and bring in new protections for British workers
  • Integration: Introduce a turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund and boost language and integration provision
The British e-ID card

This paper recommends the introduction of a digital identification system known as the e-ID card, designed to serve the individual, not the state, and to help ensure that the state can adapt to the benefits and challenges brought by free movement with compulsory registration for those wishing to work or access key services, or stay for more than 90 days. An overview of its key features is provided below; see the relevant sections for further detail on its application to the four areas of concern identified above.

Guiding principles and objectives

The e-ID card would directly incorporate the lessons of the 2006 ID Cards scheme:

  • Firstly, information storage and access to personal data would be minimal and genuinely proportionate to the goals of the identification system. No government official could access an individual’s data without their informed consent
  • Secondly, the e-ID card would be transparent and accountable in its implementation, in contrast to the accusations of ‘function creep’ levelled against the original system
  • Thirdly, the e-ID card would be a broad offering with the option to add private sector functionality with a user’s agreement
  • Finally, it would be driven by clear objectives, rather than permitting an ever-expanding list of government uses of personal data.

How the e-ID card would work:

Less bureaucracy than now

For most people, the British e-ID card would mean fewer cards since it would replace existing cards like NI cards, driving licenses, and proof of age cards. The card would be free for users – which means young people would pay much less than now since there would be no need to pay for proof of age cards which would instead be loaded onto the electronic card.

The e-ID card would be a convenient replacement for the drawer full of documents we all currently need, allowing citizens to carry just one card or electronic device with which to identify themselves. In doing so, the e-ID card would follow the Estonian ID card, including the functionality to add further public or private features if the user wishes to do so, such as enabling electronic payment methods and acting as a travel card.

Universal ID for everyone in the UK

Following a phased roll-out, possession of an e-ID card should be compulsory for anyone intending to work, access key services, and/or spend longer than 90 consecutive days in the UK.

Controlling access to public services, benefits and the right to live and work in the UK

The e-ID card would reform access to public services and social benefits so that individuals can easily claim their entitlements and interact with government services, and those without the right of access would be prevented from doing so. In particular, the e-ID card would control access to the world of work (replacing the NI number requirement), housing (through tenancy agreements), the benefits system and non-emergency public service, and in doing so would enforce restrictions on the right to reside and work in the UK150.

Today, there is no uniform requirement for accessing these services. This new system would provide a singular identification procedure, the universal nature of which removes scope for discriminatory practices.

Monitoring immigration and ensuring local services get the support they need

The e-ID card would be coupled with a registration process for EEA nationals, providing the first ever database of who is living and working in the UK, ensuring that authorities can keep track of those coming in and out of the country to work or for long-term stays. Registration schemes feeding into such databases operate all around Europe, and allow states to systematically enforce EU rules and adapt public services accordingly. In particular, the scheme proposed here would ensure that each citizen is fairly accounted for in the funding of public services, allowing resources to be quickly and correctly allocated to areas facing rising migration.

Public opinion research, such as the National Conversation on Immigration151, shows that in many areas there is a strong belief that funding allocations have not adequately take into account population rises, and that this belief is closely linked to negative attitudes towards immigration152. By using address data from registration and from tenancy agreements over 3 months (for which presentation of an e-ID card would be required), Government could detect population shifts and take the necessary measures accordingly.

Citizen-first, digital-first approach, controlling data and keeping costs low

This system is oriented towards the citizen. The e-ID card relies on minimal information, owned by each citizen, anonymised and protected from abuse, with citizens’ rights clearly established and amendable only following full and open debate in parliament. No government official could access an individual’s data without their informed consent. The card would be digital first, and would build on existing infrastructure to keep costs low.

The e-ID card would be free, and would make use of new technology and existing infrastructure to minimise costs to the state. Individuals would have the choice between a physical and a digital card, the latter of which would be substantially cheaper to produce. The process of enrolment would be built out from the existing Verify system, and would make use of existing staff working to assign National Insurance numbers (integrated within the new e-ID card); furthermore, some costs would be recouped through charging private-sector companies for identity verification services. As a guide, the 2006 scheme had an estimated cost of approximately £5.6 billion over 10 years. Our modelling suggests that a No Deal exit from the EU would cost the public finances £1.25 billion a week; the government’s preferred bespoke model would cost £615 million per week, £355 million more than a ‘Norway model’ which retains free movement. The Chancellor Philip Hammond has already committed £4.2 billion to EU exit preparations between 2016 and 2020.153 The cost of an e-ID card system would pale in comparison to these substantial economic losses.

The first part of a new approach to citizenship, guaranteeing the right to vote

Every British citizen could be automatically registered to vote at the address or place of study listed on the e-ID card, revolutionising access to our democracy. Through the enrolment process, an individual’s name and address attributes could be used to register them within the appropriate constituency, preventing people from unwittingly falling off the register. As with public services, those who might otherwise lack identification or the means to register would be supported to receive an e-ID, and therefore a place on the electoral roll.

This is particularly crucial to ensuring that young people have the ability to vote following the change to Individual Electoral Registration in 2014 with universities no longer able to automatically register student residents. The Electoral Reform Society finds that these changes have caused the proportion of school leavers on the electoral roll to drop by over a quarter since 2013154 despite young people remaining as interested in voting. The Electoral Reform Society and Electoral Commission have both called for automatic enrolment, citing a recent analysis of automatic voter registration in the US state of Oregon which concluded that this ‘strengthens democracy by expanding and broadening the electorate’.

In detail: Implementation

The UK has already introduced some of the key infrastructure needed for a new e-ID card system. The Government Digital Service have set up an identity verification platform called ‘Gov.uk Verify’ that connects to a variety of government services, including the completion of tax records and access to Universal Credit. This system operates through ‘certified identity providers’ like the Post Office; these providers hold basic personal information on individuals (such as name, address history, date of birth, and gender), and verify identity to allow those individuals access to services. Once an individual has been enrolled for the first time, they may log onto their account, after which the ‘Verify Hub’ connects the relevant public service to the data held by the identity providers. About 3 million people already have such an account and the NHS, HMRC, and DWP all have or are currently implementing identity verification systems that comply with the Verify framework155.

Learning from the implementation of universal ID systems outside the UK, Britain could build the system out of existing infrastructure, involve the private sector, facilitate easy and widespread adoption, and crucially, recognise that public trust is critical. Building the e-ID card out of the Verify framework meets these guidelines. Since it is difficult to see how some of the aims of the new system, such as accurate population data and automatic voter registration, can be achieved through the decentralised data approach of Verify, the system itself would have to be modified. Specifically, personal information would be amalgamated into a central population register rather than being held by identity assurance providers. This is unlikely to undermine public trust – the public strongly supports the creation of a population register by a clear margin (60% to 20%)156, and 60% of us trust central government to hold our personal data157. This population register could then be connected to an e-ID card portal that users use to access public services and social entitlements.

The federated enrolment approach of Verify could be retained, and citizens could follow broadly the same registration route. Firstly, they would create an account, provide details of identity proofing documentation like driving licenses to a provider, and finally have access to the e-ID card portal. Verify’s enrolment process uses a Document Checking Service that connects to HM Passport Office, the DVLA database, and HMRC’s tax databases, so for the 90% of British citizens who have either a UK passport or Great Britain driving licence158, authentication for the e-ID Card would simply involve entering details of these documents and take just 5-10 minutes. For individuals without these, such as new migrants, documents like national identity cards from EU countries would have to be provided to prove right to reside and work in the UK (see Monitoring and security for more information).

The providers for this enrolment service could either be private-sector as at present (e.g. Post Office or banks), public sector (e.g. existing Jobcentre Plus staff), or a combination of the two. This would allow for a range of enrolment options, and would permit new entrants to register at the same time as they open a bank account, or conduct other key processes. Private-sector providers would be reimbursed for successful enrolments, encouraging innovation and competition for best practice.

Integrating the e-ID system within Verify would address some of the flaws in the current system. For example, the universal need for a e-ID Card would mean that the Verify system would have to be expanded and invested in to cope with new demand. In addition, by regulating access to important benefits the e-ID Card could improve the verification success rate of Verify, which is currently hindered by a lack of incentive to complete the process and limited verification options.

Once on the Population Register, a unique ID could be generated for each individual to sign in and they would select a login PIN. The Population Register could contain minimal personal information:

  • Full name
  • Date of Birth
  • Current Address (Additional option to add a place of study for students)
  • Right of residence in the UK
  • Citizenship
  • Photograph

The physical e-ID Card could list an individual’s full name, date of birth, citizenship, photograph, and ID number and could contain an advanced chip akin to those in Estonian ID cards, enabling it to connect to the Population Register and linked databases such as the DVLA. This chip could also allow further functionality to be added; for example, shops and businesses with customer permission could integrate loyalty schemes to prevent people from amassing quantities of different cards. A mobile phone version of the e-ID card would be developed as an alternative to the physical card, similar to the existing Verify apps and the Mobile-ID system in Estonia. Typical usage of the e-ID Card system would require multiple factor authentication; an individual would log in to a service using their PIN and either scan their card or connect to the phone-based alternative.

In detail: Rollout

In order for the e-ID Card to regulate access to services and benefits while complying with EU non-discrimination law, it must be compulsory for all. The least disruptive way to implement this would be to phase rollout by expanding the e-ID Card-based identity verification requirement to an increasing number of public services and benefits with a view to eventually making it compulsory once uptake is sufficiently high. This would also be effectively self-enforcing since a refusal to register would simply entail being unable to access services and benefits, precluding the possibility of so-called ‘ID card martyrs’ protesting the compulsory element of the system. The phased rollout would help ensure that no one suddenly loses access to a service or benefit without recourse.

In detail: Privacy

The e-ID card could directly address the privacy concerns raised by the original ID scheme.

Firstly, information on the population register would be minimal. Each data element directly relates to the objectives of the system rather than being included since it ‘might be useful someday’; there would be no biometrics such as fingerprints, or over fifty pieces of information on three different databases, as in the original UK identity card scheme. The population register would contain just full name, date of birth, address details, right to work and reside in the UK, citizenship, and photograph. A strong majority of the British public find this acceptable: Research by the Office of National Statistics159 finds that over 75% of people would support having this basic personal information held on a central database and that this support is growing over time.

Furthermore, a clearly defined statement of the purposes and uses of personal data on the e-ID card would be established in its implementation and enshrined in primary legislation. Changes to this foundation must be explicitly discussed in parliament rather than implemented by statutory instruments to ensure that ‘function creep’ cannot occur without proper public notice and debate.

Secondly, citizens would ‘own’ their entry on the population register. They would be able to know what data is held on them, to correct it, and to control and clearly know how it is used. Information on the register would only be accessible without an individual’s informed consent for non-identifiable population statistics and automatic registration onto the electoral register. Hence, no government official would have the discretionary power to simply look up an individual’s personal data. While it might be useful for national security and immigration enforcement agencies to do so, such access would be incompatible with a user-centric ID system, and the Government itself suggested that it would bring minimal gains for the initial ID scheme.

As in Estonia, all access to an individual’s data would be logged using blockchain-based technology. This log would be accessible to individuals via the e-ID card online portal, and individuals can choose to be directly notified when their data has been accessed. Since access logs could provide compromising information on an individual’s activities over time, they would only be accessible with the informed consent of the individual. These logs would routinely be audited (with consent) to ensure that personal information is not being misused.

Verification of identity would also follow a ‘minimum information’ rule and would be performed without the release of data where possible. For example, if the ONS wishes to calculate the population of an area for funding formulae, it would have permission to access individuals’ address attribute, but would not have access to further attributes like names and photos. Where possible, in person identity checks, i.e. a right to access a public service check, would also follow this minimum information rule in a manner akin to Birch’s (2008)160 blueprint, with individuals generating a number or scanning their card to produce a simple confirmation or rejection (and their photo in some cases) of the query on a device rather than revealing all the details on their card.

Governance of the e-ID card system would be designed to inspire the highest level of trust among citizens. Privacy could be enforced by a body that would oversee access to the population register and have the power
to investigate complaints about privacy invasions. The existing Privacy and Consumer Advisory Group which brings together academics, privacy advocates, consumer groups and others with specialist expertise in the area could be given an executive role in this agency, providing oversight for its operation. An independent expert could head this agency and be responsible for periodically reviewing delivery of the scheme and the integrity of its processes and security arrangements.

Furthermore, the e-ID card could continue Verify’s system of real-time performance data to ensure that delays and flaws with the scheme are transparent and open, unlike the original ID cards scheme in which Parliamentary written answers were the only method for obtaining such statistics.

Finally, the population register and e-ID card system would be protected by ‘state of the art’ encryption technology. Each user’s entry in the population database would be individually encrypted making them highly secure from mass breaches.

In detail: Cost

The most significant costs of the 2006 scheme – estimated to be approximately £5.6 billion over 10 years – were in the enrolment process, administering cards, and adapting public service systems to ID checking161. The federated enrolment process of Verify significantly reduces enrolment costs by only paying for successful verification, encouraging innovation, and using private sector data systems to do so. Adapting departmental systems to the ID system would be a relatively small or an already sunken cost due to the existing departmental identification projects and compatibility with Verify. Finally, the scheme would be digital first with no requirement that physical cards be rolled out to the entire population on a compulsory basis, removing the significant cost of manufacturing, distributing, and renewing advanced ID cards for every UK resident.

The e-ID Card system could cover some costs by meeting the private sector’s need for high-quality ID authentication to perform know-your-customer (KYC) checks. KYC checks are estimated to cost between £10 and £100162 per check, and the inefficiency of these checks cost the average bank about £50 million every year163. An identity-checking facility via the upgraded Verify system could be made available to the private sector on a paid and tightly-regulated basis. This would give firms a confirmation or rejection certificate of an individual’s identity assurance level by connecting to their e-ID card account (with the users’ consent), enabling firms to easily meet their identity assurance requirements. There is huge demand from firms for such a facility to verify individuals against high quality public databases164, and so even a small fee per check could generate substantial funding for the system.

Summary

The UK is the only EU country to lack an effective national ID system. This should change immediately and form the centre of a new approach to free movement

  • Less bureaucracy than now
    • Replace existing cards (e.g. National Insurance, driving licence, proof of age) with a single electronic card to prove identity
  • Universal ID for everyone in the UK
    • Compulsory for anyone intending to work, access services, and/or spend longer than 90 days in the UK
  • Controlling access to public services, benefits and the right to live and work in the UK
    • Make possession of an e-ID card a requirement to carry out key processes, preventing illicit access and simplifying existing controls
  • Monitoring immigration and ensuring local services get the support they need
    • Couple the introduction of the card with a registration process for EEA nationals and use address data to detect population shifts
  • Citizen-first, digital-first approach, controlling data and keeping costs low
    • Prevent government access to personal data without informed consent
    • Offer the card free of charge, and promote the cost-effective and convenient digital version first
    • Minimise state costs through use of existing infrastructure (e.g. the ‘Verify’ system) and paid identity verification services
  • The first part of a new approach to citizenship, guaranteeing the right to vote
    • Automatically register every British citizen to vote at the address or place of study listed on the e-ID card

How ID cards could sit at the heart of a new system which would properly address the four primary public concerns

Monitoring and security: e-ID card

The registration and enrolment process for EEA nationals under the new e-ID system would work in a similar way to that employed by Belgium and other Member States.

The same general principle applied to UK nationals would apply to their European counterparts; namely, that possession of the card is required in order to work, access services and benefits, and rent housing on tenancies above three months. In practice, this would mean that most EEA nationals would be compelled to register. However, the UK could also use its Article 8 provisions to require EEA citizens to register onto the e-ID card system if they wished to reside after 90 days. In order to enrol for short-term purposes (e.g. a temporary one-month work contract), EEA citizens would simply be asked to provide basic identification and record of address. However, in order to reside after 90 days, they would have to supply the relevant documentation certifying their right to reside165. This would include employment contracts or evidence of self-employment, or student enrolment letters/proof of job-seeking with health insurance and sufficient financial resources. If such nationals were to lack the relevant documentation, they would be unable to register and receive the card necessary to live and work; as a result, the system would ensure that only those with a legitimate right to be in the UK could stay.

Importantly, the obligation on migrants to register and provide their address would offer Government much better information on population distribution. In addition to informing public funding formulae (explored elsewhere in this paper), it would also allow the UK to better monitor who is settling in the country and where they are settling. Likewise, by introducing an e-ID requirement to work and use services (also explored elsewhere in this paper), Government systems would be able to better detect when an EEA citizen has left the country, as their use of services such as the NHS, their work records and other metrics would go silent. This would vastly improve data on migratory flows, and could be done anonymously to ensure compatibility with the e-ID privacy safeguards. Any attempt to monitor flows would need to account for EEA migrants moving in and out through the Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland, and the difficulty in ensuring that migrants update details and de-register accordingly166. However, the ID system laid out here would offer the best opportunity to effectively track them.

Better population data and ensuring all migrants are compelled to register would also be achieved through the limited e-ID requirements on housing mentioned above. Right-to-rent checks are already conducted for those renting housing in the UK; however, this policy has been challenged in the High Court on discrimination grounds. The system should be replaced by a universal and enforced duty on landlords to register the e-ID of every renter signing a tenancy for over 3 months. Landlords would be required to keep a record of the identity registration, and present this to the local council. This would enforce the same standard for everyone, and would provide an up-to-date data source to monitor population shifts, helping to better direct public service funding. Furthermore, the ID-register information would ensure that everyone is properly contributing to local public services via council tax, and would ensure that even those who do not wish to work or use public services (e.g. the wealthy) are compelled to register.

The address data could also help the e-ID card system to enforce loss of right of residence. If EU migrants were to lose their right to reside (e.g. finish a time-limited job/ become long-term unemployed with no genuine prospect of finding work) they would also have their right to reside status flagged on the new system. By having a unified record of when the right to reside will expire and where an individual lives, the e-ID card system would enable stronger prevention of overstaying. When an individual’s right to reside is set to expire, the Home Office would be automatically notified, and could confirm if that right could be renewed (i.e. the individual has found a new job), or take action, such as imposing fines. Such a notification would be automatic and non-discretionary so that personal data cannot be misused. However, the system would help to restore control and ensure that the controls allowed under EU law are deployed effectively.

Monitoring and security: Crime and terrorism

By committing to engage fully with Prüm, SIS II, and other security systems, the UK could ensure that criminals
detected on its own territory can be targeted and prevented from committing crimes in other Member States, making for a safer continent on the whole. The UK could even go further and take a leadership position on security issues within the EU, working alongside European partners to crack down on criminality across the entire continent.

Recommendations – Monitoring and security

Follow Belgium, Estonia, and other Member States in introducing an e-ID card to provide identification, with compulsory registration for those wishing to work or use public services, and those intending to stay for over 90 days

  • e-ID card:
    • Compulsory e-ID cards with a general principle that the card is required in order to live, work, and access services and benefits. All EU citizens would be required to register for a card in
      order to remain in the country longer than 90 days
    • For stays for over 90 days, EU citizens would have to provide evidence of work, self-employment or job-seeking, or comprehensive sickness insurance coupled with sufficient resources to support themselves and their family in order to acquire an e-ID – without one, living and working in the UK would be impossible
    • e-ID card data used by Government to better track movements of EEA citizens into and out of the country, and improve overall data on migratory flows
    • Require the presentation of an e-ID card for every individual renting property for longer than 3 months in order to standardise process for all nationalities, improve population data, and enforce registration
  • Security:
    • Fully engage in European security information systems and become a security leader in Europe
Pressure on public services and the benefits system

Registration on the e-ID card system would be required to access key public services such as non-emergency healthcare, social housing, and benefits, and would be used to replace the hostile environment with a system that is fair, can command public trust, and crucially, treats everyone equally through a universal requirement. The UK should follow Estonia’s model of easy online access and registration to public services and social entitlements via one portal. For example, to register with a GP an individual would need to log on to the e-ID Portal which would then connect to the NHS registration system to complete the process. Registration would also be available onsite, using the physical e-ID card directly via a card scanner. Those who attempt to register without proper documentation may be refused access, however the ‘Hostile Environment’ practice of encouraging public servants to report back to the Home Office would not be employed.

Benefits like social housing would also be claimed using this digital system. For example, to register onto a social housing waiting list, individuals would log in to the e-ID portal, connect to the local social housing section, and then have their right to reside checked via the population register. This would help to ensure that social housing is only given to those who are entitled to it – and that the system is seen to do so.

A route towards regularisation of status should be provided to prevent this system being unduly harsh on individual groups. For legal and long-term residents such as the Windrush generation, a special task force should be provided to offer accelerated and free routes to citizenship. For illegal migrants who have stayed in the UK for long enough that they would almost certainly be able to use the family life defence in courts, a route to regularisation should also be offered to prevent them from remaining in limbo. One possibility could be to provide medium term illegal migrants with an ID status that grants right to work, reside, and access to some public services for a temporary period in return for having a formalised status on the migration system and properly applying for a full migration permit. This would promote a regularisation of status of illegal migrants in the UK that is key to preventing problems, and would fairly regulate access to public services.

However, short-term illegal migrants, such as those with recently expired visas, would not be granted access to public services or regularisation. This is necessary to ensure that British public services are not unfairly exploited. Emergency care would still be unconditionally provided, but hospitals could ask individuals with less serious problems to verify themselves to prevent abuse.

Special provisions would also be made for socioeconomic groups like the homeless who lack necessary documentation. These groups would be assigned a social worker and connected to a certified provider that can help them with identification, such as a homeless charity. These individuals would be assigned a temporary ID account with a photo and their details that is flagged as unverified. In the interim they should be allowed access to public services, but to safeguard against fraud if they are found to have faked their status, i.e. being homeless, they would face sanctions to prevent further abuse.

Finally, accurate data on migration from the population register should be used to ensure that public services in local areas are properly funded to meet migration pressures. Areas experiencing large rises in the number of migrants in an area should receive additional funding for services like GPs, schools, and housing from a new Strengthening Communities Fund, as is discussed in a later section167.

Recommendations – Pressure on public services and the benefits system

Follow Estonia in making a valid UK e-ID card a requirement to access public services and benefits, and release extra funding for public services in areas experiencing surges in migration

  • e-ID Card:
    • Ensure that all citizens have a valid e-ID card and the right to reside in the UK to register for public services such as a GP
    • Require that those wishing to claim benefits have a valid e-ID card
    • Provisions made for those who lose their card/ number, and for rough sleepers and those resistant to authority engagement
  • Funding for public services:
    • Use population data from the e-ID card system to detect migration surges, and use this to trigger funding releases to public services in those areas. Integrate this funding within a new Strengthening Communities Fund (more under Integration)
Fairness in the labour market: Regulation

In its response to the Taylor Review, Government implemented a number of the report’s key recommendations including legislating for the right of all workers to request a more predictable contract where appropriate. However, on a range of issues from agency worker rights to the introduction of ‘dependent contractor’ employment status, especially relevant for workers in the gig economy, consultations were preferred to immediate legislation. We have had the review, now Government should act. It is time to press ahead and implement the report in full.

Further, the UK could adapt measures used by other Member States for its own market without radically overhauling the worker-employer relationship. For example, restrictions on zero-hours contracts should be considered, ranging from an outright ban to minimum limits on hours and compulsory notice periods to allow workers time to negotiate existing commitments. Such restrictions on less secure contracts might reasonably encourage more UK nationals to accept posts in sectors where flexibility is crucial, and where EU migrants are heavily represented (e.g. hospitality). Government could also consider limiting the use of opt-outs from the Working Time Directive to ensure that low-skilled migrant workers are not exploited.

The UK government has recently commissioned an independent review of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to ensure that migrants are not exploited here in the UK. The National Audit Office have voiced concerns about the legislation, namely that ‘accountability within the modern slavery strategy is unclear, oversight of victim support is inadequate and few cases have led to prosecution’168; adopting best practice from the French corporate duty of vigilance law over greater transparency and the issuance of vigilance plans169 may prove to be a valuable first step, coupled with better accountability for both offences committed overseas and companies whose goods end up outside the UK170.

Finally, Switzerland operates under the principle of free movement arranged by bilateral agreement with the EU.

As part of that agreement, they have secured a mechanism whereby local vacancies must be advertised to residents first under certain conditions. This provides assurances to Swiss residents that they have a fair chance of winning local jobs. There is no good reason why Britain cannot do the same.

Fairness in the labour market: Enforcement

In his Labour Market Enforcement Strategy 2018/2019, Sir David Metcalf recommended a series of actionable measures to clamp down on illegal working in the UK. HMRC could impose significantly higher fines for non-compliance with the minimum wage, and more actively prosecute offenders – this would almost certainly more than provide for the increase in budget of the EASI. The GLAA could extend the licensing scheme to other at-risk sectors, and joint responsibility for employment abuses could be introduced across the supply chain. Sir David also recommends an independent evaluation to investigate the overall impact of the different enforcement agencies on tackling labour market non-compliance. Requiring the presentation of an e-ID card in order to work would further restrict employment off-the-books, and would ensure all eligible EU citizens are compelled to register.

Within his report, Sir David Metcalf argues for more effective joint working across enforcement agencies. Given this direction of travel, it may be possible to go further by bringing the duties of the disparate agencies under a unitary Labour Inspectorate (as in Spain and other EU countries) with an increased budget and a stronger inspection regime. Whilst it would be necessary to integrate a mix of staff and work streams, such an approach would mirror the focus of the e-ID card in streamlining unnecessary bureaucracy. This new inspectorate could use the Swiss approach and work with social partners on inspections, setting annual floor levels for inspection rates that are higher in target areas already acknowledged by the EASI/GLAA (such as agricultural workers). The evidence points to the effectiveness of an approach centred on active inspection; EASI’s own annual report for 2018 states that by increasing risk-based operations by 20%, the number of breaches discovered rose by 50%171.

Furthermore, the digital nature of the e-ID card could enable quick and easy work status checks. Individuals would be able to generate a code that companies or government bodies can enter online to quickly verify their right to work in the UK without revealing secure personal details. The free online Biometric Residence Permit checker to establish the right to work for non-EEA migrants is a precedent for this that has been reasonably successful but limited in scope. The population register of the e-ID card would enable individuals to add further information and connect to other public databases to perform broader work checks like criminal record. This new universal work status checking service would significantly reduce costs for firms and streamline the hiring process. It would also facilitate prevention of illegal work by making it easier for enforcement officers to check an individual’s work status and less likely that firms would mistakenly hire someone without the right to work in the UK.

Fairness in the labour market: Training and skills

The state must act to guarantee every 18 year old with 5 good GCSEs the right to a high-quality apprenticeship. The apprenticeship levy is not working. It may be possible to reform the structure of apprenticeships and their funding, both in line with employer demands and in line with the Danish model to reanimate a good idea in theory which is failing to fulfil its potential in practice. A number of reforms have been suggested; for example, the EEF has proposed increasing the maximum funding band from £27,000 to ensure that high-cost STEM and engineering apprenticeships are not priced out, and allowing employers to agree a payment schedule with their providers to allow more flexibility in using levy funds172.

The UK government has designed new apprenticeships (including degree apprenticeships) together with employers, and has moved towards a Danish-style model in embracing T-levels. However, concerns have been raised by universities as to the level of preparation these courses will offer to students for higher education study. As Universities UK argue in their response to the government consultation, ‘T-levels, as currently envisioned, will not be suitable to support progression to a wide range of higher education courses and will not fulfil the current role of applied general qualifications’173. Government could design elite T-levels to match university demands (with language and soft employability skills given a central position) and establish different levels of vocational qualifications according to future career plans. Similarly, designing the apprenticeship scheme around core strands (especially those disproportionately filled with migrant labour) would ensure UK nationals are not out-skilled for roles in sectors such as construction and transportation.

The IPPR have argued for more extensive devolution on skills provision to allow cities to better respond to changes in local markets. Such a policy could also help authorities to adapt to a surge in migrants moving to particular areas with better skills than the local population.

Recommendations – fairness in the labour market

Follow Switzerland in introducing proper enforcement squads to crack down on unscrupulous businesses, and bring in new protections and training for British workers to ensure a level playing-field:

  • Tougher enforcement to prevent illicit undercutting on wages/conditions:
    • Introduce a simple online tool for employers and enforcement officers to check right to work status using the e-ID card
    • Fully implement the recommendations made by Sir David Metcalf in the Labour Market Enforcement Strategy 2018/19, including imposing significantly higher fines for non-compliance with the minimum/living wage
    • Introduce new targets for inspectors, potentially under a new powerful Labour In spectorate, combining the three major enforcement agencies
  • Effective labour regulation to protect workers’ rights:
    • Fully implement the Taylor Review including the introduction of a new ‘dependent contractor’ status to help workers in the gig economy, and clarifying the rights of agency workers
    • Reform the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to improve cross-border accountability
    • Reassess the use of opt-outs from the Working Time Directive and regulation of zero-hours contracts
    • Switzerland have secured a mechanism whereby local vacancies must be advertised to residents first under certain conditions, providing assurances to residents that they have a fair chance of winning local jobs. There is no good reason why Britain cannot do the same
  • Better training to upskill British workers and raise productivity – currently 25% lower than Germany174:
    • Ensure that all 18 year olds with 5 good GCSEs are given the right to a high-quality apprenticeship, and build a reformed Apprenticeship Levy which genuinely upskills the workforce, boosts productivity, and prepares Britain for the jobs of tomorrow
    • Ensure that T-levels provide university- appropriate qualifications
    • Look closely at proposals to devolve skills provision
Integration

The government’s Integrated Communities Green Paper talks of ‘providing information to prospective migrants before they arrive in the UK, to give them a clear expectation about life in modern Britain, including our laws, norms and standards’175. Whilst this would be a welcome first step, it should be complemented by the provision of low-cost German-style integration courses to foster citizenship and civic duty for new entrants to the UK. By relocating part of existing ESOL provision within these new courses, Government could tie in language learning with a broader process of cultural assimilation, ensuring that migrants who do learn English do so in a way that offers a holistic insight into British culture.

Rather than relying on voluntary organisations, a government-run Migration Advice Service should be considered to resolve problems that prevent migrants from integrating, including the direction of migrants to relevant language services, the location of sports and leisure programmes, and assistance with reporting abuses in the workplace (helping to redress the problem of under-reporting amongst EU migrants176). More substantial engagement from central government in liaison with migrants and community groups through a UK version of the ‘integration summit’ would also send a powerful message that the UK and its migrants are working together to ensure truly integrated communities.

English language standards could and should be raised by both improving the ESOL offer and making it more difficult for long-term migrants (over 1 year) to refuse to learn. Firstly, the government’s proposal for a new national strategy could be accompanied by a substantial increase in central funding for ESOL provision, returning financing to the 2009-2010 level of £203 million annually. This could be guaranteed to ensure regularity and protection for the funding. ESOL provision should be treated as a governmental priority.

Secondly, Government should extend the English language fluency requirement for customer-facing public-sector workers to include appropriate private-sector contractors, a move explicitly permitted under Article 78(9) of the Immigration Act 2016. This would ensure that frontline public service workers can always speak comfortably in English, no matter the level of private contracting pursued under a respective administration; given that the value of NHS work opened to tender stands at £5.6 billion and includes services such as mental health and elderly care177, this is an increasingly pressing concern. This would encourage migrant workers in the public sector to treat language learning as a priority during their first months/years of residence, boosting integration.

Finally, financial support for communities facing an influx of migrants should be significantly increased in tandem with a radical overhaul of the Controlling Migration Fund, replaced by a Strengthening Communities Fund. The budget for the new fund (minus the immigration enforcement aspect) should be raised substantially to reflect the significant financial contribution of migrants to public finances. Overall European migrants pay £4.7 billion a year more in taxes than they claim in benefits and public services178. This redesigned fund should allocate part of its funding to local councils and their projects, though central operation should be proactive in sourcing and designing local integration programmes with councils, rather than relying on a slow and outdated bidding process. The remaining portion of the fund could be used to ensure that areas experiencing high migration or potentially those suffering wider adverse effects of globalisation are adequately supported, and that existing residents do not lose out.

The problem with implementing such a system at present is that central government lacks good population data to detect where migrants are living, especially those who are resident for less than a year. The Casey Review itself states that ‘better data and research are needed across a range of issues relating to integration’179. However, introducing an e-ID card would, once installed, resolve that issue; it would offer an accurate register of migrants and UK citizens in particular areas capable of detecting shifts and surges, and capture shorter-term migrants provided they were resident for beyond three months. Likewise, the public service ID requirement would allow central government systems to detect a surge in registrations from IDs linked to new residents.

Recommendations – integration

Introduce a turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund and follow Germany in boosting language and integration provision.

  • Strengthening Communities Fund to support local areas:
    • Replace the Controlling Migration Fund with a turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund, backed by significant investment – raising financing which reflects the enormous positive impact that immigrants make to the UK economy
    • Use part of the new fund to ensure that frontline public services in areas experiencing high migration are adequately supported, and that existing residents do not lose out
  • Stronger English language provision and requirements to help migrants gain a foothold in the UK:
    • Raise government funding for ESOL provision to pre-2010 levels, and make English language learning a governmental priority
    • Extend the English language requirement for public-sector workers to include appropriate private-sector contractors
  • Integration provision to ease transitions and review best practice:
    • Hold annual integration summits in conjunction with stakeholders to continually revise government strategies on strengthening communities
    • Introduce low-cost integration courses accessible to EEA and UK citizens alike which foster citizenship and civic duty, and act as a portal to high-quality ESOL teaching
    • Establish a Migration Advisory Service to resolve integration challenges

Final Recommendations

  • Monitoring and security: Introduce an electronic ID Card to provide compulsory registration for anyone staying more than 90 days, giving government up to date information on who is living and working in the UK
  • Pressure on public services and the benefits system: Make a valid e-ID Card a requirement to live, work and access public services and benefits, and use it to release extra funding for public services in areas experiencing surges in migration
  • Fairness in the Labour Market: Proper enforcement squads to crack down on unscrupulous businesses and bring in new protections for British workers
  • Integration: Introduce a turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund and boost language and integration provision

The UK is the only EU country to lack an effective national ID system. This should change immediately and form the centre of a new approach to free movement.

  • Less bureaucracy than now
    • Replace existing cards (e.g. National Insurance, driving licence, proof of age) with a single electronic card to prove identity
  • Universal ID for everyone in the UK
    • Compulsory for anyone intending to work, access services, and/or spend longer than 90 days in the UK
  • Controlling access to public services, benefits and the right to live and work in the UK
    • Make possession of an e-ID card a requirement to carry out key processes, preventing illicit access and simplifying existing controls
  • Monitoring immigration and ensuring local services get the support they need
    • Couple the introduction of the card with a registration process for EEA nationals and use address data to detect population shifts
  • Citizen-first, digital-first approach,controlling data and keeping costs low
    • Prevent government access to personal data without informed consent
    • Offer the card free of charge, and promote the cost-effective and convenient digital version first
    • Minimise state costs through use of existing infrastructure (e.g. the ‘Verify’ system) and paid identity verification services
  • The first part of a new approach to citizenship, guaranteeing the right to vote
    • Automatically register every British citizen to vote at the address or place of study listed on the e-ID card
Monitoring and security:

Follow Belgium, Estonia, and other Member States in introducing an e-ID card to provide identification, with compulsory registration for those wishing to work or use public services, and those intending to stay for over 90 days.

  • e-ID card:
    • Compulsory e-ID cards with a general principle that the card is required in order to live, work, and access services and benefits. All EU citizens would be required to register for a card in order to remain in the country longer than 90 days
    • For stays for over 90 days, EU citizens would have to provide evidence of work, self-employment or job-seeking, or comprehensive sickness insurance coupled with sufficient resources to support themselves and their family in order to acquire an e-ID – without one, living and working in the UK would be impossible
    • e-ID card data used by Government to better track movements of EEA citizens into and out of the country, and improve overall data on migratory flows
    • Require the presentation of an e-ID card for every individual renting property for longer than 3 months in order to standardise process for all nationalities, improve population data, and enforce registration
  • Security:
    • Fully engage in European security information systems and become a security leader in Europe.
Pressure on public services and the benefits system:

Follow Estonia in making a valid UK e-ID card a requirement to access public services and benefits, and release extra funding for public services in areas experiencing surges in migration

  • e-ID card:
    • Ensure that all citizens have a valid e-ID card and the right to reside in the UK to register for public services such as a GP
    • Require that those wishing to claim benefits have a valid e-ID card
    • Provisions made for those who lose their card/number, and for rough sleepers and those resistant to authority engagement
  • Responsive funding for public services to minimise perceived negative impacts:
    • Use population data from the e-ID card system to detect migration surges, and use this to trigger funding releases to public services in those areas. Integrate this funding within a new Strengthening Communities Fund (more under Integration)
Fairness in the Labour Market

Follow Switzerland in introducing proper enforcement squads to crack down on unscrupulous businesses and bring in new protections and training for British workers to ensure a level playing-field

  • Tougher enforcement to prevent illicit undercutting on wages/conditions:
    • Introduce a simple online tool for employers and enforcement officers to check right to work status using the e-ID card
    • Fully implement the recommendations made by Sir David Metcalf in the Labour Market Enforcement Strategy 2018/19, including imposing significantly higher fines for non-compliance with the minimum/living wage
    • Introduce new targets for inspectors, potentially under a new powerful Labour Inspectorate, combining the three major enforcement agencies
  • Effective labour regulation to protect workers’ rights:
    • Fully implement the Taylor Review including the introduction of a new ‘dependent contractor’ status to help workers in the gig economy, and clarifying the rights of agency workers
    • Reform the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to improve cross-border accountability
    • Reassess the use of opt-outs from the Working Time Directive and regulation of zero-hours contracts
    • Switzerland have secured a mechanism whereby local vacancies must be advertised to residents first under certain conditions, providing assurances to residents that they have a fair chance of winning local jobs. There is no good reason why Britain cannot do the same
  • Better training to upskill British workers and raise productivity – currently 25% lower than Germany180:
    • Ensure that all 18 year olds with 5 good GCSEs are given the right to a high-quality apprenticeship, and build a reformed Apprenticeship Levy which genuinely upskills the workforce, boosts productivity, and prepares Britain for the jobs of tomorrow
    • Ensure that T-levels provide university-appropriate qualifications
    • Look closely at proposals to devolve skills provision
Integration

Introduce a turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund and follow Germany in boosting language and integration provision.

  • Strengthening Communities Fund to support local areas:
    • Replace the Controlling Migration Fund with a turbo-charged Strengthening Communities Fund, backed by significant investment – raising financing which reflects the enormous positive impact that immigrants make to the UK economy
    • Use part of the new fund to ensure that frontline public services in areas experiencing high migration are adequately supported, and that existing residents do not lose out
  • Stronger English language provision and requirements to help migrants gain a foothold in the UK:
    • Raise government funding for ESOL provision to pre-2010 levels, and make English language learning a governmental priority
    • Extend the English language requirement for public-sector workers to include appropriate private-sector contractors
  • Integration provision to ease transitions and review best practice:
    • Hold annual integration summits in conjunction with stakeholders to continually revise government strategies on strengthening communities
    • Introduce low-cost integration courses accessible to EEA and UK citizens alike which foster citizenship and civic duty, and act as a portal to high-quality ESOL teaching
    • Establish a Migration Advisory Service to resolve integration challenges

End Notes

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/co…orne-brexit-newsnight-brussels
  2. https://www.niesr.ac.uk/sites/…everhulme%20report%20FINAL.pdf
  3. Harvey Redgrave (Tony Blair Institute for Global Change), EU Migration: Examining the evidence and policy choices, September 2017
  4. Catherine Barnard & Sarah Fraser Butlin, ‘Free movement vs. fair movement: Brexit and managed migration’, Common Market Law Review 55: 203-226
  5. Professor Jonathan Portes (UK in a Changing Europe), Free Movement After Brexit: Policy Options, October 2017
  6. Jean Pisani-Ferry & Norbert Rottgen & Andre Sapir & Paul Tucker & Guntram B. Wolff, Europe after Brexit: A proposal for a continental partnership, August 2016
  7. Michiel Luining & Adriaan Schout (Clingendael), EU labour mobility: an EU that protects?, August 2017
  8. European Commission, Standard Eurobarometer, March 2018
  9. In recent years, Denmark and Ireland (through the Passport Card and Public Services Card) joined the ranks of those with ID systems, leaving the UK as the last remaining country in the EU
  10. ONS, International comparisons of UK productivity (ICP), first estimates: 2016, October 2017
  11. https://assets.publishing.serv…act_migrants_final_report_.pdf
  12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared…hared/bsp/hi/pdfs/30091803.pdf
  13. https://www.theguardian.com/uk…-after-brexit-says-sajid-javid
  14. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/art…curbs-on-immigration-jml870rjv
  15. https://ourglobalfuture.com/re…reports/100000-carers-missing/
  16. p. 90 https://assets.publishing.serv…le/741926/Final_EEA_report.PDF
  17. p. iii https://assets.publishing.serv…le/741926/Final_EEA_report.PDF
  18. https://researchbriefings.parl…earchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7851
  19. https://ourglobalfuture.com/wp…balFuture-Too_high_a_price.pdf
  20. NIESR, Post-Brexit Immigration Policy: Reconciling Public Perceptions with Economic Evidence, October 2018
  21. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/lega…/TXT/?uri=celex%3A12012E%2FTXT
  22. http://www.lisbon-treaty.org/w…-1-workers/187-article-
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  23. Such as C-149/79 Commission v Belgium and C-405/01 Colegio de Oficiales de la Marina Mercante Española
  24. Case C-149/79 Commission v Belgium
  25. Cases C-405/01 Colegio de Oficiales de la Marina Mercante Española and C-47/02 Anker and others
  26. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/lega…t/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32004L0038
  27. If the latter, the citizen must be registered as a job-seeker, and will then retain worker status for six months
  28. For example, if an EU citizen resident in Spain under Article 7 fails to register within the specified time limit, they may be fined up to €500
  29. Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry, Policy options for future migration from the European Economic Area: Interim report, Q. 247
  30. https://www.reuters.com/articl…it-security-deal-idUSKBN1I51WW
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  44. House of Lords European Union Committee, Brexit: UK-EU movement of people, s. 115
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  46. Harvey Redgrave, op.cit
  47. Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), 2002
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  50. EUCO 1/16
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  59. European Commission, Work Programme 2016
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  68. C-673-16
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  91. https://www.escoe.ac.uk/popula…migration-statistics-compared/
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  93. https://migrationobservatory.o…tion-flows-to-and-from-the-uk/
  94. A requirement under the EU Directive on Passenger Name Record (PNR) (Directive (EU) 2016/681)
  95. Article 5, Citizens’ Rights Directive (2004/38/EC)
  96. Cabinet Office, 2017. Government Transformation Strategy.
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  98. Migration Advisory Committee, 2018. EEA migration in the UK: Final report. pp. 4.30-4.40
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  109. Home Affairs Select Committee, Immigration policy: basis for building consensus, s. 39
  110. House of Lords European Committee inquiry, The United Kingdom’s participation in Prum, ss. 9 – 17
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  116. Lithuanian Free Market Institute, Employment Flexibility Index, 2018
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  119. Fudge, Professor Judy, ‘Illegal Working, Migrants and Labour Exploitation in the UK’, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, v. 38.3
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  123. https://www.gov.uk/government/…ew-of-modern-working-practices
  124. Directive 2018/957 (EU)
  125. Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate: Written question – 157131 (Paul Blomfield MP), 25th June 2018
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  129. Submission to Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry, Immigration policy: basis for building consensus
  130. https://www.iod.com/news-campa…or-Apprenticeship-Levy-reform-
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  133. Home Affairs Select Committee, Immigration policy: basis for building consensus, s. 111
  134. Controlling Migration Fund: prospectus, 2018, Annexes B and D
  135. Casey, Dame Louise DBE CB, The Casey Review: A review into integration and opportunity, p. 15
  136. Official Labour Market Statistics, https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/cen…sweb.co.uk/census/2011/qs205ew
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  138. Secure Identity Alliance, eServices in Estonia: a success story, 2014
  139. E-Governance Academy, e-Estonia: e-Governance in Practice, 2017, p. 28
  140. http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/…0/05/02/espana/1272788780.html
  141. Gemalto, Portugal issues electronic residence permits, 2017 Retrieved from: https://www.gemalto.com/govt/c…ases/portugal-residence-permit
  142. Kemmy Business School (University of Limerick), A Study on the Prevalence of Zero Hours Contracts among Irish Employers and their Impact on Employees, November 2015
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  144. SECO, FlaM Bericht 2016 Umsetzung der flankierenden Massnahmen zum freien Personenverkehr Schweiz – Europäische Union, 2017
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  146. Meardi, Professor Guglielmo, What does migration control mean? The link between migration and labour market regulations in Norway, Switzerland and Canada, October 2017
  147. CEDEFOP, Spotlight on VET: Denmark, October 2016
  148. Equivalent to £328.35 (exchange rates on 29/08/2018)
  149. Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education, Work placements abroad for apprentices in the Danish VET-system / PIU, June 2018
  150. *More detail on the relevance of the e-ID card to public services/benefits is provided under Pressure on public services and the benefits system
  151. Rutter, J. and Carter, R., National Conversation on Immigration, 2018
  152. *More detail on the relevance of the e-ID card to public service funding formulae is provided under Pressure on public services and the benefits system and Integration
  153. https://ourglobalfuture.com/re…brexit-what-the-public-thinks/. https://www.ft.com/content/887f7f50-dba3-11e8-9f04-38d397e6661c
  154. https://www.electoral-reform.o…oral-roll-should-worry-us-all/
  155. https://www.computerweekly.com…platform-prototype-this-autumn
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  158. Government Digital Service, Estimating what proportion of the public would be able to use GOV.UK Verify, 2016. Retrieved from: https://identityassurance.blog…-be-able-to-use-gov-uk-verify/
  159. ONS 2014
  160. Birch, D.G., 2008. Psychic ID: A blueprint for a modern national identity scheme. Identity in the Information Society, 1(1), pp. 189-201
  161. Whitley, E.A., The identity project: an assessment of the UK Identity Cards Bill and its implications, 2005; Home Office Identity and Passport Service, National Identity Service Cost Report, May 2009
  162. Consult Hyperion, Know Your Compliance Costs, June 2017
  163. Ibid.
  164. The Open Identity Exchange, UK Private Sector Needs for Identity Assurance, 2016
  165. More on enforcement of right to reside, public services and employment under Pressure on public services and the benefits system and Fairness in the labour market
  166. For example, once a registration certificate has been issued in Spain there is little way for the government to know if a migrant extends their stay or departs early
  167. See Integration
  168. https://www.nao.org.uk/report/…eport/reducing-modern-slavery/
  169. http://humanrights.freshfields…dated-corporate-disclosure-reg
  170. https://www.antislavery.org/an…g/analysis-modern-slavery-act/
  171. Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate, Annual report 2017 – 2018, Annex A
  172. EEF, A Levy Price to Pay? The Apprenticeship Levy One Year On, 2018
  173. https://www.universitiesuk.ac.…-t-level-consultation-2018.pdf
  174. ONS, International comparisons of UK productivity (ICP), first estimates: 2016, October 2017
  175. H.M. Government, Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper, p. 14, March 2018
  176. http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/…ers-employment-rights-matters/
  177. https://www.ft.com/content/2a9…ee-c937-11e6-8f29-9445cac8966f
  178. https://assets.publishing.serv…le/741926/Final_EEA_report.PDF
  179. Casey, Dame Louise DBE CB, The Casey Review: A review into integration and opportunity, 2016, p. 15
  180. ONS, International comparisons of UK productivity (ICP), first estimates: 2016, October 2017

 

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