“Money Can’t Buy EU Love – European Funds and the Brexit Referendum” is the title of a paper by Dr. Jan Fidrmuc of Brunel University, and immediately evokes images of several months ago when Remain voters lined the streets of London with ‘We Love EU’ placards and gold and blue flags, as well as recent savage arguments in Brussels over the best course of action as the continent struggles to get over the shock of a member state opting to leave the union.
Dr. Fidrmuc explained to his ISET audience that his paper found that many supporters of the Remain campaign came from British regions which benefited from European structural and cohesion funds, but that EU cohesion policies were undersold as part of the campaign itself. As well as beneficiaries, his paper also revealed that counties with lower unemployment
rates and higher economic development were in favor of staying in the EU. However, fears over immigration from the continent (and Britain being forced to accept EU refugee legislation) were used by the Leave campaign to a greater extent.
After this, Dr. Fidrmuc presented a second paper, “Flocking Eastern Europeans - Causality Analysis of EU Immigration to the UK”, which examined the immigration issue in greater depth. Dr. Fidrmuc’s study found that immigration did not have adverse effects on unemployment rates, nor did it lower wages on an aggregate level. However, immigrants from the EU were found to be driving unemployment rates up for people with intermediate skills.
Having presented both papers, Dr. Fidrmuc concluded that along with economic factors, issues such as immigrant-related crime and the perceived quality of immigrant services also affected the result of the referendum. However, Dr. Fidrmuc claimed that leaving the EU will not improve Britian’s economic situation – indeed, as observers of the news will have seen, it has made it markedly worse – despite some of the negative factors of immigration.
Britain’s economic future remains uncertain, but whatever the post-Brexit negotiations yield, study of the country’s economy will continue for years to come.