Workers from European Union countries make a valuable contribution to the Island’s economy and should be allowed to stay here post-Brexit, according to Chief Minister Allan Bell MHK.
Mr Bell said it was important to confirm the position regarding the rights of such individuals to continue living and working in the Isle of Man following the UK’s departure from the EU.
Under the Protocol 3 agreement, EU nationals can move to the Island and take up employment, subject to the work permit system, in the same way as UK citizens. The 2011 census showed 3,609 residents (4.3% of the total) from EU countries other than the UK.
Protocol 3 will fall when the UK eventually leaves Europe and the position of EU nationals in the Isle of Man is expected to depend on what is agreed in relation to EU nationals living in the UK. As a Crown Dependency, the Isle of Man is part of the UK immigration system.
Mr Bell said the ‘grandfathering’ of rights for EU nationals was an issue across the Crown Dependencies and had been one of the matters highlighted in their joint letter to the Prime Minister following the UK Referendum outcome.
The Chief Minister commented: ‘EU migrants to the Island tend to be young and economically active, making a net contribution to our economy that is both welcome and significant.
‘If we are to sustain public services and pensions in the future it is essential that we continue to grow the economy and increase the size of the working population, so it is important that the position of EU workers already living and working here is confirmed as soon as possible.’
Mr Bell added: ‘As our initial letter to the Prime Minister indicated, this issue is high on the agenda for all three Crown Dependencies and it is one on which we will continue to push for clarification.’
The position of EU nationals post-Brexit was considered in the Council of Ministers First Interim Report on the Implications of the UK Referendum published in April.
The Report noted that any restrictions on EU nationals working in the UK and the Isle of Man ‘may well impact on the ability of Isle of Man industries to source labour.’
It also observed: ‘In respect of Isle of Man residents, the only certainty at this stage is that if the UK votes to leave the EU, and then places restrictions upon EU citizens to either come to the UK, or indeed to remain there, there would most likely be pressure to replicate such restrictions in respect of the Isle of Man. The Isle of Man may have little choice but to replicate these restrictions.’