What you might need to know

This video tells you a little more about freedom of movement of people across the European Union. There are several mechanisms in place but this freedom of movement of people is really at the heart of the Single Market which the European Union has created. The UK really didn’t like having people moving freely into their country so it was very much one of the decisive factors in voting Leave.

  • The Single Market allows the freedom of movement of people for work or study purposes like under the Erasmus agreement where students can go for a semester or a year to study in any other EU university. You can also go on holiday or retire anywhere within the EU. It means you don’t have to get a visa to study, work or reside in another EU country.
    There is also equivalence of qualifications across the EU which works more or less well but is still easier than if you are from a non-EU country. The UK is now a third country and there is no mutual recognition of professional qualifications. A nurse trained in the UK cannot automatically work in Sweden because his or her training isn’t recognised.
  • There is another mechanism that has facilitated travelling across many countries of the EU. It is called the Schengen Area. It is made up of 22 EU member states and 4 non EU countries like Switzerland. These countries have got rid of border control at their borders. So you can travel from Seville in the south of Spain to the Hague in the Netherlands without ever being stopped for passport control.
    However if there is a threat to national security, Schengen countries can temporarily reinstate border controls. It was the case at the time of the Paris terrorist attacks.
    The Republic of Ireland and the UK are not part of Schengen. They have another agreement called the Common Travel Agreement and dates back to 1920s. Brexit hasn’t affected it.
  • When talking about borders in the Republic of Ireland, we have to mention Brexit and the issue of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
    The Northern Ireland Protocol agreed as part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement puts the border in the Irish Sea. This means that there is no border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. This was essential to comply with the Good Friday Agreement and keep maintaining peace on the island.