Sunday, 10 July 2016

Borderline sad, borderline sad

"Gents of the empire strangle my desire".  How very f**king apt.

I'm a middle-aged man now but some time ago I was actually a young man still to develop the grumpy and negative outlook on the world that I cling to today.  When I was young borders were coming down all over Europe.   When I was young the world was opening up; hardly a year went by without new freedoms and opportunities presenting themselves to young people in the EU.  When I was young we were still to hear "One Dance" by Drake for the first time.  Whit  a buzz!  (btw that is not a spelling mistake, it is just how we say "what" in Scotland when we feel a bit mischievous).

If you are 22 years old living in the UK in 2016 are you likely to experience that sense of opportunity and freedom that people of my generation had?  It saddens me to say this, but I very much doubt it.  Thanks to the Brexit vote, borders are likely to be reinstated.  Thanks to the Brexit vote, their right to work in any EU nation will be curtailed.  I'm going to rephrase this slightly to emphasis the regressive nature of Brexit:  EU nations must act in a manner that does not discriminate against citizens of other EU nations.  As it stands, that includes UK nationals.  After Brexit is complete,  EU nations will be forced to treat UK citizens in a discriminatory manner.  For example, if Bernd in Bochum has the choice of hiring a French or a Welsh candidate then the company will be forced to take the French candidate. There will need to be an extremely good reason to choose a non-EU candidate over one from the EU.  I don't know about anyone else but I had no particular skills when I was 22.  To be perfectly honest, I don't have any particular skills now.  Bernd in Bochum probably won't even bother interviewing the Welsh candidate because it will just be a waste of time.  I've been unlucky enough to witness first-hand just how hard it is to make the case for work visas for non-EU nationals, even in an industry that suffers from a global skills shortage. In about 2.25 years I will find myself in exactly the same boat.  That fictitious 22 year old I mentioned earlier will be able to gaze across the English Channel and watch their contemporaries in France and Germany and Sweden carrying on exercising those very freedoms that UK citizens are about to lose.

Why am I saying all this?  Well, because of this.  If you are a UK national living and working in the EU this probably makes you a little nervous:  the likely Prime Minister seems hell-bent on giving up the freedom of movement of labour.  Moreover, the likely Prime Minister has already stated she is prepared to use EU nationals living in the UK as a bargaining chip in the Brexit negotiations.  The other candidate in the contest to become next Conservative leader and Prime Minister campaigned to leave the EU so I would imagine we can think of Theresa May as the least-worst scenario.  A reduction of rights and freedoms now seems a sure-fire certainty.   

If you are 22, living in the UK, and thinking about taking advantages of EU freedoms and rights I would recommend taking action right now.  If you get  yourself settled before the completion of Brexit you might just be able to stay wherever you end up.  You have about 2.25 years so get cracking.  If you're 16 and reading this then not only are you wasting your time on the rantings of a middle-aged idiot but you're also basically stuffed.  Right now, I don't envisage a mechanism by which you could apply for a job in Paris in 2022 and not be at the back of the queue due to your EU status.  Even Bernd in Bochum (great guy, look him up next time you're in Bochum) won't consider your CV.  Bloody heck, this is a depressing mess.   In my first ever post I did say this might be an emotional journey as much as a logistical and political one.

Over and out,


PS That post about the Swiss situation is still brewing.  I'm a bit slow reading articles in German and it is sunny outside. 

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