Good prospects for skilled British workers in a post-Brexit EU


April 11, 2017

The UK is in the process of leaving the European Union just as the EU is working to considerably increase inflows of highly skilled workers from outside the bloc.

This would provide opportunities for British nationals to work in the EU even without any special agreement following the Brexit negotiations.

That is the finding of a Migration Watch UK paper (MW406 - Arrangements for skilled Britons seeking to work in the European Union after Brexit) being released today.

Around 18,000 Britons travel to Europe for work each year. After Brexit, they may be required to obtain a highly skilled work permit known as a Blue Card.

The EU Blue Card scheme is currently far from complete, with nearly 90% issued in Germany alone. A variety of work permit arrangements for the highly skilled still operate across member states.

Reforms are planned that are intended to achieve a considerable increase in the number of Blue Cards issued. Salary thresholds would vary by country and by job.

In the five member states where the most EU-based British nationals live and which implement the Blue Card (Spain, France, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium), the prospective salary threshold range would be between £17,000 a year and £46,400 a year (based on 2014 Eurostat figures). The UK’s current minimum salary threshold for experienced highly skilled non-EU workers is £30,000.

The proposed changes to the Blue Card would also mean:

  • Simpler, more uniform arrangements across member states as national work permit schemes for the highly skilled are abolished.
  • The job need only be for six months (rather than a year as is currently the case).
  • The holder would be able to relocate to another member state after a year (rather than after 18 months as is currently the case).
  • It would be easier for those already in the EU to apply for Blue Cards.

Currently, eight member states apply annual quotas on non-EU migration. Under the proposed reforms, this would continue.

The EU estimates that the reforms, if implemented, could lead to an extra 32,000-138,000 Blue Cards being issued each year, with the largest increases in France, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Commenting, Alanna Thomas, Executive Director of Migration Watch UK, said:

British citizens hoping to work in the EU post-Brexit need not be concerned about getting a work permit. The EU is in the process of expanding their scheme and easing the conditions.


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