Why I am an Optimistic European in London.
This week Nahida, our French consultant, explains why she doesn’t think it’s all bad news for Europeans in London after Brexit.
On the 23rd June 2016, an announcement rattled the world. The United Kingdom decided to definitively quit Europe. British citizens were asked to choose if they want to leave Europe. The Yes voters won with just a small percentage of 51,89%
The UK is one of the most powerful countries globally, and the first in Europe to make a difference notably through its conservation of its own currency, the sterling, and also by its refusal to be part of the Schengen agreement, contrary to other European countries.
There are more than 3.2 million Europeans citizens who are currently living in the U.K.
Brexit raises the question of the future of these Europeans citizen. What is their future in a country which decided to leave Europe?
Theresa May presented her project on the status of European immigrants: “I want to reassure all those EU citizens who are in the UK, who have made their lives and homes in the UK, that no-one will have to leave, we won’t be seeing families split apart. This is a fair and serious offer. I want to give those EU citizens in the UK certainty about the future of their lives, but I also want to see that certainty given to EU citizens who are living in the EU.”
The UK authorities have announced the creation of a new statute for EU nationals: “The established resident”. To obtain it, they must have been residents of the United Kingdom for five years. Those who have not reached this term by the Brexit date, which is expected to occur at the end of March 2019, will be granted temporary resident status until they can apply for a grant.
Theresa May said these holders “will be treated as British citizens in health, education, welfare and retirement”. Concretely, only two elements will differentiate them from British citizens: they will not be allowed to vote, except in local elections, as is already the case, and they will lose their status if they live continuously for more than two years outside of the United Kingdom.
The immigration work force is currently indispensable to the British economy. All studies indicate that the Uk is first choice for European immigrants. 2.2 million are employed, according to ONS, out of the total of 3.6 million counted. In 2015, for example, it was reported that 73% came to the Uk for work against 21% who came to study.
All industry sectors and all types of positions are included in this figure such as hotels, restaurants (24%) financial services (18%) and public services, such as the NHS health system (17%).
More than one year after the vote to leave Europe, the United Kingdom seems to have contradicted the forecasters. In 2016, the United Kingdom posted a 2% growth, simply the best performance amongst Western countries.
The rate of unemployment is low. Another reassuring statistic. The unemployment rate continues to descend. It reached 4.7% last February, the lowest level since August 2005. The Brexit referendum has not changed this. The UK is almost at full employment; the unemployment rate cannot go much lower.
Finally, what I would advise for European citizens who are living in U.K is to be patient, don’t panic, wait until we are certain of the definitive proposals that the government will take. The Uk has to understand, that European citizens are very important for the economy. They are a part of the country and nobody will force them to leave.
Concerning the consequences of the Brexit, only time will say. At the moment all the forecasts were wrong, as all markets, so only time will tell.