European Committee calls for a bespoke immigration solution for Scotland


Holyrood’s European Committee has called for the Scottish and UK governments to consider “a bespoke – or differentiated – solution for immigration policy in Scotland” after Brexit.

In a unanimous cross-party report, published today, on EU Migration and EU Citizens’ Rights, the committee says that 181,000 EU nationals living in Scotland are experiencing “imposed uncertainty” as they wait to find out whether they will be able to continue to live and work in Scotland. The report says “EU citizens who have made their homes throughout Scotland should be allowed to remain” and calls on the UK government to clarify their status without further delay.

The report also highlights “strong evidence of the importance of EU migration to Scotland and the contribution that EU migrants have made to the Scottish economy and Scottish society”. Evidence shows that EU migration since 2004 has helped reverse a decline in the Scottish population and increased the number of people of working age in Scotland.

The report states that the demographic risks for Scotland of a reduction in the number of EU migrants are more acute than for the UK as a whole.

Joan McAlpine MSP, Convener of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee, said:

“The 181,000 EU migrants who have made their home in Scotland – not to mention Scots living in the EU - are effectively living in a state of limbo while they wait to hear what will happen to them after Brexit.

“EU migration has helped reverse a decline in the Scottish population, particularly amongst people of working age. A ‘hard Brexit’ runs the risk of driving this valuable group of European citizens out of Scotland. That will have a devastating effect on the communities where EU citizens have made their home, businesses and key sectors of our economy. We’re therefore calling on the UK and Scottish Governments to identify a differentiated solution for immigration policy in Scotland after Brexit as soon as possible.”

Lewis Macdonald MSP, Deputy Convener, said:

“This report presents strong evidence of the risks facing key sectors of our economy, from agriculture to tourism and research, without the continued access to the essential source of labour that EU citizens currently provide.”

The report shows the value of EU migrants to different sectors of the economy. For example, there are over 30,000 EU nationals employed in ‘distribution, hotels and restaurants’, and almost 20,000 in ‘public administration, education and health’.


The committee’s report includes a breakdown of:

  • EU nationalities living in Scotland (Poland has the most nationals – fig. 4)
  • The number of EU nationals living in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee (fig. 7)
  • The employment of EU nationals by economic sector (fig. 9)

The report includes personal written testimony from two EU citizens (pages 30 and 31).

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