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Free movement within the EU has delivered major benefits, according to a new report published by IPPR. The report shows that ending EU free movement would be a hugely retrograde step, but in order to make the benefits of free movement clearer, some modest reforms should be undertaken to address the public perception of unfairness.


The report argues that exports worth £211 billion, which support 4 million British jobs, would be under threat if the UK was to withdraw from the EU because of opposition to free movement.  But IPPR says public support for the continuance of free movement will not be won simply by reiterating statistics about net economic benefits.  Some aspects of the way the system now operates appear unfair to people and advocates of free movement should be willing to accept the need for reform rather than dismissing such concerns, as they often do now.


The report says there are arguments for changing certain rules including:

  • addressing the problem of vulnerable low-skilled employment in the UK
  • increasing conditions on access to social security assistance for mobile EU citizens
  • facilitating the return of individuals who are unable to exercise their free movement rights
  • reform of the rules around transitional controls for future accession states