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UK Citizens in the EU report shows concerns, October 2018

http://ukandeu.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Freedom-of-Movement-report.pdf

Conclusion

In conclusion, then, while not all panellists thought that restricting freedom of movement was necessarily a bad thing, on the whole the testimonies suggested that the prospect of losing current rights would represent a significant loss with serious practical, social, financial and emotional consequences, the latter summed up in the testimonies of Matt and John:

‘I totally love freedom of movement, it is one of the main obvious benefits that has come from being part of the EU, and I would be incredibly sad to lose it. I have made great friends in different parts of Europe and expect to continue to do so in the future. To have the ability to move around, work and form relationships with them restricted is a massive personal and emotional loss.’ (Matt in Germany). ‘Having something so basic, so fundamental, taken away is painful.’ (John in Belgium).

 

There has been a great deal of diversity in terms of the types of people who have taken up the opportunity to move and reside within the territory of the member states. Similarly, there has been a great deal of flexibility about what free movement means in terms of mobility patterns. Our research includes those who have retired, those who have moved permanently or temporarily for work, those studying in another EU-27 country, some who have moved to join families or to start a new family, and people who live in one country and work, sell goods or provide services in another. Some of those who have settled permanently are concerned about their future residence rights, effects on their financial situation, and access to Health services.

But, for many, freedom of movement is not simply about settling in another country, it is about a future right to live, move, move again to somewhere else, and to combine travel and living throughout Europe in the true sense of free movement. Many external commentators, such as politicians and journalists, appear, in their analyses of the effects of the loss of freedom of movement, to be stuck with the age-old distinction between a migrant and a traveller that Karen O’Reilly challenged in her early work in Spain (O’Reilly, 2000). For them, this loss will affect only travellers and tourists on the one hand, and those who have settled elsewhere, on the other hand. These misconceptions are partly informed by the stereotypes that abound with regard to Britons abroad, as discussed here.

But the fundamental right to freedom of movement is about much more than movement. It blurs the distinction between travel and settlement both as an ideal and as a practice. British people in Europe have embraced the concept of free movement far beyond its legal interpretation, as closer to something symbolising openness to new cultures and experiences. With that has come a European identity as well as European connections based around work, love, family formation, and political and social associations. Freedom of movement is as much about an outlook and future plans as it is about the here and now, and many of our panellists feel that they have not only lost a right but a sense of who they are, and who they can be. ‘I totally love freedom of movement, it is one of the main obvious benefits that has come from being part of the EU, and I would be incredibly sad to lose it. I have made great friends in different parts of Europe and expect to continue to do so in the future. To have the ability to move around, work and form relationships with them restricted is a massive personal and emotional loss.’ (Matt in Germany). ‘Having something so basic, so fundamental, taken away is painful.’ (John in Belgium).