Preferential immigration rules for EU citizens should end, report says

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Immigration due to EU free movement hasn’t had a major impact on employment levels or wages in the UK, according to a major report.

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) found that immigration from members of the European Economic Area had “neither the large negative effects claimed by some, nor the benefits claimed by others”, but it recommended that EU nationals lose their preferential treatment under UK migration rules after Brexit.

Ministers called in independent experts to carry out a detailed analysis of the role of EU nationals in the UK just over a year ago.

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Then home secretary Amber Rudd commissioned the MAC to examine a host of issues including the economic and social costs and benefits of EU migration, and the potential impact of any fall in arrivals from the bloc.

The MAC concluded that if “immigration is not to be part of the negotiations with the EU, and the UK is deciding its migration system in isolation, we recommend moving to a system in which all immigration is managed with no preferential access to EU citizens”.

The final report will inform the government's plans for Britain's immigration system after free movement rules cease to apply.

Earlier this month, Ms Rudd's successor Sajid Javid said he would publish a white paper "soon" after the MAC'S findings are released.

An interim update published by the committee in March said employers in all sectors are concerned about the prospects of future restrictions on migration from the European Economic Area.

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Ministers have already published details of settlement schemes for EU migrants and family members who are resident before the formal exit date, or who arrive in the implementation period, which runs to the end of 2020.

Figures have sparked claims of a "Brexodus" since the referendum in 2016.

The latest statistics put estimated net EU migration - the balance between arrivals and departures - at around 87,000, the lowest level for more than five years.