What does Freedom of Movement mean to British citizens living in the EU27? Freedom, mobility and the experience of loss

Collins, Katherine and O'Reilly, Karen. 2018. What does Freedom of Movement mean to British citizens living in the EU27? Freedom, mobility and the experience of loss. Project Report. Goldsmiths, University of London, London. [Report]

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Abstract or Description

This report draws from research conducted by the BrExpats research team with a panel of 194 British citizens, living in 23 countries across Europe, who have been in touch with us throughout the project, telling us their stories and responding to our ongoing requests for information and feedback. It looks at what freedom of movement means in terms of European Union regulations, on the one hand, and how the notion of freedom of movement, as a right and an ideal, has been interpreted and enacted by British people living abroad, on the other hand. We explore: what freedom of movement, as a right to move and to reside, means to British citizens living in the EU; how they have implemented their rights; and what might be the practical and emotional consequences of losing these rights.

Key points:
• Freedom of movement is one of the four fundamental freedoms of the European Union, together with the movement of goods, capital, and services. It underpins the right of persons to move and reside freely within the territory of the
member states.
• While celebrated as a freedom, legally, freedom of movement is far more complicated and circumscribed than its name suggests, and the regulations around its implementation vary from one country to another.
• The implicit bias in EU legislation towards workers and labour rights begins to explain the lack of understanding of how the loss of freedom of movement rights will affect people in practice.
• In practice, British citizens living and working in the EU-27 are very diverse in terms of age, class, gender, ethnicity, employment status, and especially mobility patterns. They include those who have moved permanently for work alongside those who have retired in the EU; people who have moved temporarily for work or study; people who have moved to join family or to start new families; and people who live in one country and work, sell goods or provide services in another.
• These British citizens embrace the concept of free movement far beyond its legal interpretation as something symbolising openness to new cultures and experiences.
• Furthermore, they see freedom of movement as an individual and social good and are afraid this good is being lost without consulting them.
• In even broader terms, there is a fear among some panellists that the qualities they associate with freedom of movement may be less forthcoming in a post- Brexit Britain, qualities like interest in other cultures, openness to new ideas and experiences, compassion and understanding for other people

Item Type:

Report (Project Report)

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Additional Information:

The study is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the UK in a Changing Europe Initiative (Grant Number ES/R000875/1). It is led by Dr Michaela Benson, Reader in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London.

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1 November 2018

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Date Deposited:

01 Nov 2019 13:00

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 17:19



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