The law and migration: What would be the legal implications in the field of migration of withdrawing from the EU?
Over the years EU law has come to influence many elements of UK law. The principle of subsidiarity exists and the EU can only act in areas over which it has competence, such as trade, free market, justice and home affairs, agricultural and fishery. Nevertheless, there has been the perception among some of ‘mission creep’ - that the EU is trying to expand its remit and legislate in areas outside of its competence. The UK has already negotiated a number of opt outs most notably from the areas of freedom, security and justice (formerly justice and home affairs) and can choose to flexibly opt in on different measures on the basis of national interest. However, the UK is unable to opt out of the central principle of freedom of movement for EU citizens, and many other pieces of EU legislation can have impact on migrants more broadly (for example directives on equal treatment, EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights). Withdrawal from the EU could allow the UK greater flexibility to remove some of this legislation going forward; however, the question of transitional arrangements and the possibility of current EU citizens in the UK having ‘vested rights’ would need to be considered.
Part of Brexit? Breakfast Briefings series 6: Migration implications of EU withdrawal.
This project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council's UK in a Changing Europe initiative.