Post Brexit London: Nordic Highly Skilled Migrants after the British EU Referendum

Saara Koikkalainen:

Increased mobility in its all possible forms is one of the main effects of globalization.

Within the European area of free movement the possibility of mobility has been maximised: the majority of Europeans can study, work, or retire in any of the 32 EU/EEA member states. London has been Europe’s leading global city and a magnet for intra-European migrants. However, its position is at risk because of Brexit, a process which began in June 2016 when the UK decided to leave the EU after a referendum.

The Brexit situation is a natural experiment on how a reversal of free movement rights affects the movement of labour in Europe, how highly skilled careers are managed in uncertain times and how the re-emergence of national borders within borderless Europe influences the ways in which mobility is imagined, planned and executed.

The project, to be conducted during 2018-2019, has two research objectives:

First, to analyse the nature of the European free movement regime through the lived experience of Nordic migrants and to provide an in-depth look into the lives of these highly skilled individuals in London.

Second, to test the functionality of the concept of cognitive migration the phase of decision-making in which the experimental, narrative imagination is actively engaged in negotiating one’s future social worlds when considering international mobility.

The project is based on a survey and qualitative interviews of Nordic nationals living in London. The project is funded by the Alfred Kordelin Foundation and the Academy of Finland research project Transnationalism as a Social Resource among Diaspora Communities.

For more information, and a link to the survey, please visit: