Business chiefs voice concerns over EU citizens plan

Many business leaders in Great Britain feel that employer frustration will not be eased by the UK government’s latest EU migration plan, and worry that the UK could lose out on skilled EU workers.

Image of a UK airport departure board illustrates an article which discusses the fact that many EU workers are contemplating leaving the UK
Business leaders have welcomed the fact the government has finally published its plan for enabling EU nationals to remain in the UK after Brexit but have expressed reservations over the system on offer.The manufacturers' organisation EEF has been most critical of the proposals outlined by Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday, saying companies need greater clarity if they are to retain the overseas skills they need.Tim Thomas, EEF's director of employment and skills, said: “The frustrations felt by many employers will not be eased with the publication of the government’s migration offer.“The proposed system seemingly requires two new sets of registration for EU nationals who want to live and work in Britain - one leading to permanent status and the other for a work permit. The announcement, which ranges from government ‘wanting to’ to ‘intending to’, will do nothing to ease the uncertainly of EU nationals and their employers.“Employers need clarity and certainty well before the date we officially leave the EU and face a tipping point after which it becomes almost impossible to retain or attract employees from Europe. With most other EU countries already using a registration system, operating in a similar way to that proposed, now is the time to radically rethink our approach to Brexit enabling the UK to enjoy premium access to the single market and the EU workforce when we leave.”
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Adam Marshall, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said that, while the business community welcomed the fact the government had finally set out its plan, there was "a tinge of regret and frustration".He added: "This offer could have been made loudly and clearly nearly a year ago in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, which would have spared individuals, communities and employers significant angst and worry. Signals matter, and the UK government's lack of clarity until now has meant that many UK firms have lost valued members of staff, with others saying that key employees are thinking about leaving."The UK and EU must strive for an ironclad, reciprocal guarantee on citizens’ rights as soon as possible in the Brexit negotiations. Individuals and businesses - both here and on the Continent - cannot be left in limbo until the conclusion of the final Brexit agreement." Josh Hardie, deputy director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, described the government's plan as an important first step."Protecting the rights of EU citizens here and UK citizens abroad is the right priority at the outset of the negotiations, and firms will look forward to an early resolution of this issue," he said.“Both sides need to provide reassurance for millions of employees, giving certainty for businesses and starting to build real momentum to the negotiations.“Companies will also expect a low-cost, speedy and simple solution to be put in place for EU citizens to establish their right to settlement in the UK.”


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