Freedom of Movement

Tourism and Health Insurance

Tourism was an obvious advantage open to Scots when we were members of the EU.  We could all get on a flight, train, boat or drive and easily, without visas, travel anywhere in Europe. Budget airlines flourished because of the EU single market and competition rules, taking Scots to other countries and bringing tourists to us.[1]

Again, this was a two way street, and we in Scotland have plenty of sights which other people want to come visit.  Tourists from other EU countries spent about £800 million in Scotland in 2014 which is around 40% of total international visitor spend.[2]

The EU also guaranteed rights to healthcare across the EU for you and your family.  If you travel;ed to another EU country on holiday and fell ill or had an accident, thanks to the EU’s cross border Health Care Rules and the European Health Insurance Card, you were guaranteed medical assistance on the same terms as locals.  This included immediate and clinically necessary state-funded treatment, care for pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care.[3]  This protected us from potentially astronomical medical bills which can be faced when travelling in other parts of the world. 

[1] COM(96) 514 Final Communication from the Commission to Council and the European Parliament on the Impact of the Third Package of Air Transport Liberalization Measures, EU Commission, 22 October 1996.

[2] ‘The Impact of EU membership in Scotland’, SPICE, October 2015.

[3] More information can be found on the NHS European Health Insurance Card Guide, NHS, January 2016 and from ‘Healthcare in Europe,’ The Scottish Government.

The Right to Work in Europe

Free trade must be fair, and must work for people, not just businesses.  

The EU single market rules are underpinned by a strong core of social rights, both for workers and for people in general: to promote their general welfare, to facilitate freedom of movement by ensuring that accrued rights are portable and can travel with you to another country, and to prevent unscrupulous employers from exploiting national differences to undercut working conditions and the standard of living. 

Pre-Brexit, if you moved to another EU or EEA country, EU rules on social security co–ordination guaranteed you would not lose the rights which you accrued in your country of origin (i.e. you will not have to start from scratch) and you would be entitled to access to the social security system of your new country on the same terms as citizens of that country[1]. So, if you retired to Spain, your pension will still be paid to you. 

Click here for more detail on what these rights entailed.

Freedom of Movement

Scots often have many identities. The Independence movement has always been comfortable with this and openly embraced it.  Campaign organisations such as English Scots for Yes or Poles for Yes illustrate this particularly well but Scotland has also long been part of a European framework. Scottish communities have, for hundreds of years, made their homes in the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Germany and Poland to name just a few.

As a result, Scottish identity has always had a European element to it. Pre-Brexit, many Scots continued to take advantage of the single most visible benefit of the EU: the right to travel, work, or retire anywhere in the EU, from the Algarve to the Arctic Circle, from Stornoway to Cyprus. No Scottish citizen needed a visa to travel and there wereno impediments to working in any country you may have chosen. It is only fair those rights were also extended to other EU citizens too.

Immigration continues to receive hostile coverage in Westminster and in the press.

The case needs to be made clearly: freedom of movement across the EU was of huge benefit to Scotland.

Immigration is not just about the benefits that EU citizens bring to Scotland, but about the reciprocal benefits that Scots enjoyed in the EU.

Freedom of movement was a two way street.  It opened up opportunities for Scots, but EU migrants coming to Scotland have been a huge boost to Scotland too. Immigration from the EU is not something to be condemned or hidden, it should be celebrated for the boost to our communities and economy that it is.

Migrant Economic Contribution – The Facts:

In Scotland, 78.9% of EU born citizens are in employment compared to a Scottish average of 73.1%.[2]In the years up to 2011, EU citizens living here (but not born in the UK) contributed £4.96 billion more to the UK economy than they took out in public services, such as through the NHS, education, or welfare.[3] Recent calculations have shown that EU immigrants make a net contribution to the UK of £4,775,341 per day or, to put it in stark terms, £55 per second to the public purse.[4]

[2] ‘EU Nationals Living in Scotland’, SPICE, 20 December 2016. 

[3] Christian Dustmann and Tommaso Frattini, ‘The Fiscal Effects of Immigration to the UK’, The Economic Journal, 2014.

[4] Christian Dustmann and Tommaso Frattini, ‘The Fiscal Effects of Immigration to the UK’, University College London: Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration, no. 22/13 November 2014