The truth about ‘Freedom of Movement’, according to the EU

Brexit Fightback - One-pager no.6 – Free Movement - With nine Brexit groups endorsing


Left: Credit EU Commission. Click right image for the one-page factsheet.

Less than 850,000 Brits live in the EU27 countries, and less than 10,000 UK students study there

‘Freedom of Movement’ is one of the EU’s four core principles. For most people, it means the right to go to live, work, or study in the EU27 countries. So how many UK citizens take advantage of this?

The EU has already stated that UK citizens will not require visas to visit the EU27 after Brexit. This factsheet therefore focuses on the numbers of British people who actually live, work, or study in the EU27 countries. This is factsheet no.6 in our Brexit Fightback Initiative.

It turns out from official EU figures that the vast majority of the UK population have no interest in the EU's 'freedom of movement'.

Nine Brexit organisations endorse this factsheet

Brexit Facts4EU.Org is pleased to announce that once again some great Brexit organisations have come together, to endorse the sixth factsheet in the series.

© Logos are the copyright of each organisation

This one-pager shows how citizens of other EU countries have benefited from freedom of movement, whereas UK citizens have only benefited to a very small degree. You can now download this information as a simple, one-page PDF leaflet

Or you can read it below. We hope you find it useful.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org Summary

Free movement has benefited citizens from other EU countries,
but citizens of the United Kingdom use it very little

The facts below come from ‘Mobility in Europe’ (Freedom of Movement), a July 2019 report by the EU Commission’s statistics agency. This official EU data is backed up with data from the ONS and Universities UK.

  • 3.9 million EU27 nationals now live in the UK
  • Less than 850,000 Brits (1%) live in the EU27
  • 4½ times as many EU27 citizens live in the UK, compared to UK citizens in the EU27
  • The number of EU27 nationals in the UK has continued to rise since the EU Referendum (ONS)
  • The UK’s proportion of EU nationals is 70% higher than the EU average
  • Poles top the table at over 1 million
  • Romanians are second with 416,000, despite only having free movement to the UK from 2007

Click chart to enlarge - © Brexit Facts4EU.Org

Where do British people live in the EU27?

  • Spain is by far the most popular home for Brits in the EU : 285,000 live there [EU figures]
  • France comes second with 145,000 UK nationals, and Ireland is third with 103,000 UK nationals
  • The other 310,000 are spread across the remaining 24 EU countries, averaging under 13,000 per member state

What about young people and ‘their future’?

Only 0.5% of UK higher education students use the EU’s ‘Erasmus+’ study programme.

  • 99.5% of UK students do NOT use it
  • Less than 10,000 higher education students study in the EU27, out of 1.84 million [EU / Universities UK data]
  • Pro-rata, staff use it three times more than students
  • Erasmus+ does NOT require EU Membership. Iceland, Norway, Turkey, Serbia, Liechtenstein and North Macedonia are all part of Erasmus, but are not in the EU.

Click chart to enlarge - © Brexit Facts4EU.Org

Currently an EU citizen has the automatic right of entry into the UK. He or she can bring family members even if they are not EU nationals. He or she can live, work, access schools and universities, GP surgeries, hospitals, the benefits system, and housing. There is no such automatic right for people from India, Kenya, Australia, the United States, etc.

Freedom of movement within the EU might be an aspiration for some in the UK,
but very few in the country actually use it.

Let’s keep things in proportion

Endorsed by a NINE Brexit organisations with big reach

We are pleased to tell readers that we have received endorsements for this factsheet from eight other Brexit organisations, each acting independently. With us that makes nine

© Logos are the copyright of each organisation

These are: Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Alliance of British Entrepreneurs, Get Britain Out, Economists for Free Trade, Fishing for Leave, Global Britain, Veterans for Britain, Better Off Out (part of The Freedom Association), and Campaign for an Independent Britain . We recommend visiting their websites and following them on Twitter and Facebook, if you haven't already done so.

© Brexit Facts4EU.Org - click for full-size PDF version

Further action: This factsheet follows on from the first five factsheets in the ‘Brexit Fightback Initiative’. More factsheets are coming, with several of them nearing completion. In the meantime we hope that readers will do everything they can to promote them.

We would like to thank the following readers for their specific support of the Brexit Fightback Initiative :-

VIP Sponsors (£100 donation or more): Geoffrey Burwood, Barbara Jell, David Hurlbut, Jon from Wales, Patrick Ford, Michael Garland, Sydney Ashurst

Gold Sponsors (From £50 donation): Linda Thorpe, Margaret Dennis, David Warren, Jean Shaw, Keith Hartrick

Sponsors (From £10 donation): Nigel Wright, Jennifer Sayer, Ian Etheridge, Christine Baxendale, Mick Davies, Mel, Kevin Burrell, DM Hedley, Elaine Grant, Patrick Lane, Maureen Cooper, Rob Dilly, Geoffrey Bastin, Elizabeth Ford, Gary Bruce, R Livingstone, Peter Richardson, Peter Agate

P.S. If we have inadvertently missed you off the list, please let us know!

Want to see all factsheets in this series? Click here!


Once again Brexit Facts4EU.Org has summarised the results of our years of research and articles into a simple one-pager for the public and for MPs. And once again this factsheet has been endorsed by nine major Brexit organisations, including us.

By the very nature of a one-pager it is impossible to include all the facts we have published over the past few years. In common with the other factsheets in this series we have looked at facts which we believe are of most interest.

As ever, Remainer MPs and campaigners will say “Oh but what about xyz?” Our response is simple. First, answer the abc’s.

This is the sixth in the Brexit Fightback Initiative series and we desperately need to get the rest completed and endorsed. Other subjects will include the Customs Union, Defence, Fishing, and several more fundamental areas where we have powerful arguments to make. They will contain official facts and figures, and simple charts, to illustrate the points at a glance.

We are very grateful to readers who have supported the Brexit Fightback Initiative with donations. We need more readers to become Sponsors if we are to complete this essential task urgently.

We are inviting readers to help by becoming a Sponsor (£10 donation), a Gold Sponsor (£50 donation), or a VIP Sponsor (£100 and above). We will not publish your name unless you give express permission, naturally, and your contact details are never used.

To become a Sponsor, please just use the quick and secure donation methods below this article. Thank you.

Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

[ Sources: EU Commission | Eurostat | UK Office for National Statistics | Universities UK ] - Brexit Facts4EU.Org, 15 October 2019

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