FREE MOVEMENT OF WORKERS IN THE EU

The future after Brexit (KCL, 30/01/2019)
United Kingdom Association for EU Law

Current situation for EU citizens and UK nationals – Before March 29

Free movement of workers is a fundamental principle of the Treaty enshrined in Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and developed by EU secondary legislation and the Case law of the Court of Justice. This freedom shall entail the abolition of any discrimination based on nationality.

EU citizens are entitled to:

  • Look for a job in another EU MS;
  • Work in another EU MS without work permit;
  • Reside there for work;
  • Stay there even after employment has finished;
  • Enjoy equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax advantages.

Who can benefit from this freedom? 

For instance, EU nationals looking for a job in a different EU country (jobseekers); EU nationals working in another EU country; EU nationals returning to their country of origin after having worked abroad. However, there are some restrictions to the above based on certain grounds and, e.g. employment in the public sector, etc.

What could happen in case of a No deal exit on March 29 2019?

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal (there is no transition period, the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019).

There is no certainty in such scenario:

  • Visa for temporary stays – this could lead to discrimination (e.g. based on nationality, etc.).
  • Britons would no longer be on a level playing field vis-a-vis EU citizens, who can easily move to another EU country and start a new job there. For Britons, post-Brexit, there will be more bureaucracy.
  • There could be bilateral agreements with the UK, but there is no certainty on the type of agreement / model of agreement (e.g. Canada, South Korea) for regulating services and there might be systems in place for mutual recognitions of jobs.
  • It is uncertain if there will be a mutual interest of the EU and the UK to find an agreement that would introduce mutual recognition of jobs, as most regulated services are MS competence.