Mr Davis said he wants to see a system of work permits introduced for Europeans instead of treating them like migrants from the rest of the world who have to apply for visas.
The move would significantly weaken controls on EU citizens and anger MPs who are pushing to get more generous schemes for the Commonwealth.
The chief negotiator confirmed immigration policy would be on the negotiating table in trade talks with Brussels, he said: “Not expecting a visa arrangement between ourselves and the European Union.”
Speaking on the Spectator’s podcast, the Brexit Minister said he does not foresee a “visa arrangement” being implemented, adding: “I wouldn’t expect it the other way round either, that’s part of the point of the negotiations.
“I don’t want to do the negotiation up front but the aim of the exercise is to run our immigration policy in the economic interests of the nation.
“So we aren’t going to switch off all the scientists, or the engineers, or for that matter even the farm workers necessarily.
“Because the effect of that will be to damage an industry.
“At the end of the day, Parliament will decide what our immigration policy is.”
If EU migrants are given preferential treatment it is likely to enrage Brexiteers after tighter controls were promised by Leave campaigners during the referendum.
Boris Johnson and Priti Patel argued that leaving the EU would man more immigration from elsewhere in the world.
Ms Patel said EU migration led to tighter controls from migrants from elsewhere which had impacted industries such as curry restaurants.
In the same Spectator interview, Mr Davis also said there would not be a “big fight” tariffs as both sides were pretty much agreed they did not want them in a huge dent to Remoaner arguments about trade wars.
He said the UK’s position on financial services’ access to the EU was “we want as much as we get”.
The comments come only days after it was reported by Retail Economics and law firm Squire Patton Boggs that the UK retail industry could be hit with £7.8billion in extra tariffs.
Mr Davis said: “What we want is going to be bigger than any other standard trade deal.
“Bear in mind that Canada is the most advanced trade deal ever done to date, so it’s a pretty good starting point.
“There are all sorts of pluses such as the security, foreign policy and defence arrangement.
“Other pluses we are seeking is mutual recognition of standards that exist in trade deals, it exists in the Canadian one for some products, it exists in the South Korean one for some products.
“What we are trying to do is to say to the European Union, ‘look, you’ve done this deal here so you know how it works’, putting it in reference points that they will understand.
“So there are a whole series of issues that we can get added in.”