Scotland supports the free movement of people from European Union countries after Brexit even although the British Government does not back this position.

New figures from the Scottish Government show just how important EU citizens are in the nation’s jobs market and economy and Ministers are warning that if fewer people come to work it could have a negative impact.


There are around 128,000 EU nationals working in Scotland and they contribute an average of £34,400 each to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), more than £4.4 billion a year, according to the new data.

It is the first time economists have calculated a figure which highlights the possibility that if net EU migration to the UK was to fall Scotland’s predicted population growth would be disproportionately affected.

Following a meeting with EU workers employed at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary who raised concerns about Brexit, Europe Minister Alasdair Allan said it is clear that migration positively impacts regional economies in the UK.

‘Businesses big and small, the agriculture sector, financial services companies and our NHS are concerned about no longer being able to employ them,’ he added.

He pointed out that the health sector could be hit hard. ‘Currently, EU citizens are filling hard to fill specialisms and areas of acute shortages. Ominously, recent figures released by the Nursing and Midwifery Council confirm that since the referendum, the number of EU nurses and midwives registering to work in the UK is declining,’ Allan explained.

‘EU citizens and their families also make a positive contribution to the communities in which they live, including in remote and rural areas. That is why we believe fundamentally that continuing free movement of people is in the best interests of Scotland and the UK as a whole,’ he added.

In a submission to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the organisation that advises the British Government, the Scottish Government says that by 2026 all of Scotland’s population growth is projected to come from migration with 58% coming from overseas and 42% from the rest of the UK, highlighting the need for a continued flow of people from the EU.

It adds that lower levels of migration from the EU due to Brexit will result in slower population growth and will have a negative impact on the population sustainability of Scotland, and on the working age population in particular.

The analysis of the figures shows that most people moving to Scotland to do to work or study. Of those moving to Scotland in the 12 months to the middle of 2016 84% were of working age and the peak age for migration into Scotland from overseas was 23.

The figures also show that in since the 12 months to the middle of 2007, Scotland relied on positive net migration for population growth more than any other part of the UK. Over that period, 88% of population growth in Scotland came from migration compared with 53% for the UK as a whole.