Both parties (i.e. the United Kingdom and the European Union, including Hungary) will lose on Brexit, so minimising those losses is an important task in the exit negotiations, said László Andor, head of faculty and associate professor at the Corvinus University of Budapest, and former member of the European Commission. He spoke at a conference titled “Social Europe before and after Brexit”, organised by the Labour and International Economy sections of the Hungarian Economic Association. The event was held at the Budapest University of Economics on 16 November. Mr. Andor noted that the parties should strive for constructive partnership in order to retain as much of the mutual benefits of Britain’s current EU membership as possible.
According to Iain Lindsay, UK ambassador to Hungary, Britain is leaving the EU’s institutions but will not turn its back to Europe. The country will still contribute to the continent’s defence capabilities, and the government strives for a comprehensive and ambitious free trade relationship with the EU.
Speaking about the situation of EU citizens working in Britain, László Andor explained that their legal status and rights are still debated. Some 3% of the EU’s overall work force live in a country other than the one they were born in. This ratio seems low, but some countries deviate from the average significantly; for example, the number is 6% in the UK.
The employment level among people from other EU countries who live in Britain is higher than the employment rate of British citizens; furthermore, employees from other EU countries are net contributors to the UK budget as they pay more taxes than what they receive in various benefits and provisions, Mr. Andor noted. The most citizens of other EU countries work in Britain’s health care and higher education sectors, where their ratio is 10% and over 15%, respectively. Which foreign workers’ rights will be guaranteed is still debated; this will probably depend on the date of their arrival in the UK.
Mr. Andor explained that Brexit could be a threat to the EU’s social dimension if Britain should introduce lower social, labour and environmental standards in order to obtain competitive advantages over the continent.
According to Péter Balázs, lecturer at the Central European University and former member of the European Commission, the exit talks between the EU and Britain have not started yet; this is still the time of jostling for the best starting positions. As to the UK’s labour market, the main question is not the fate of the people currently working in Britain but rather the future access to the country’s labour market by EU member states.
Concerning the free movement of labour, Mr. Balázs explained: Hungary has suffered losses in the past few years that are comparable to times of war, as hundred thousands of Hungarians have left the country for higher West European wages.
Speaking about the financial impact of Brexit on the EU, the speaker noted that the Union’s budget is about to be thoroughly overhauled. The emphasis on agriculture and cohesion policies will decline, while security and competitiveness will gain importance. Mr. Balázs also pointed out that, in the absence of Britain, France will remain the only standing member to represent the EU in the U.N. Security Council; so the responsibility of France will increase, while Britain will enjoy more leeway in decision-making. Brexit will not affect the Schengen area or the Euro zone as the UK is outside of both. Both will gain relative importance within the EU as the largest non-euro-zone country is leaving the Union. As another impact, the relative importance of Germany and Fance will rise, the presenter explained. (Source: national news agency MTI)
Brexit as a whole should be rethought (Ezt az egész Brexitet újra kellene gondolni, Piac és Profit)
Both Britain and EU will lose on Brexit (Nagy-Britannia és az Európai Unió is veszít a Brexittel, Magyar Hírlap)
(Europe before and after Brexit – question marks (Európa a Brexit előtt és után – kérdőjelek… Infovilág)
Speech by U.K. ambassador Iain Lindsay (pdf)
Presentation by Éva G. Lukács (pdf)
Presentation by György Greskovics (pdf)