How to Make Immigration the Bridge to an Orderly and Timely Brexit

Policy Brief
17-17
May 2017
Photo Credit: 
Parbul TV/Handout via Reuters

In March, UK Prime Minister Theresa May formally initiated a two-year negotiation period for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union under the EU Treaty’s Article 50. Since the June 2016 Brexit referendum, she has missed several good opportunities to generate the necessary political goodwill across the EU-27 and is now running out of time as the EU-27 impose their priorities on the Article 50 negotiations, one of which is settling the UK immigration status of EU workers. One way the prime minister could generate goodwill would be to unilaterally announce that her government will grant all EU citizens living in the United Kingdom full UK citizenship, except voting rights. Such a status would be a UK equivalent of a US green card. Under such a step, EU-27 citizens would acquire all the essential auxiliary rights already possessed by UK citizens, including work and residency permissions and family-based migration. The EU-27 will almost certainly reciprocate such a British gesture, smoothing the way for successful Brexit negotiations.

Data Disclosure: 

The data underlying this analysis are available here.