On Friday 16th September, the second workshop in the SPERI research project on the political economy of Brexit, led by Scott Lavery, took place at the University of Sheffield. The focus was on the issue of the labour market, free movement and the welfare state in the context of the UK leaving the EU.
This is the second in a series of three workshops on Brexit. The first workshop was held at the University of York and focused on trade and finance. The final workshop will be held at the University of Leeds on 9 November and will address the issue of investment and infrastructure. The project is funded by the White Rose Consortium.
Three panels addressed different aspects of how Brexit has affected the labour market, free movement, and welfare. The first panel focused on employment rights, reflecting on the state of labour legislation at the EU level and the attitude of British capital towards these regulations. It was widely felt that a so-called ‘bonfire of employment rights’ would be unlikely and that the process of Brexit would instead involve some more minor alterations to the regulation of the labour market.
The second panel considered the prospects for Social Europe and the future of EU integration, including potential disintegration. Presentations addressed the barriers to the kind of integration necessary for the EU to develop a stronger social dimension. It was noted that despite the UK often blocking such developments, many other barriers remain and the prospect of Social Europe is dim.
The final panel addressed the issue of free movement. It drew attention to the pressures facing free movement following the centrality of this issue to the Brexit vote and the implications of restrictions on free movement on the higher education sector and the UK’s relationship with Ireland.
Ben Rosamond delivered a keynote speech, in which he situated Brexit in the context of the multiple crises – potential disintegration, the refugee crisis, and the Eurozone crisis – facing the EU.
The next workshop will be held at the University of Leeds on 9th November and will focus on trade and investment in the context of Brexit. Please contact Charlie Dannreuther for further information on the upcoming Leeds workshop: C.Dannreuther@leeds.ac.uk.
For further enquiries about the project, please contact Scott Lavery: firstname.lastname@example.org.