UK Migration Watch: 250 000 Bulgarian, Romanian Migrants by 2018
UK is an attractive destination for Bulgarian and Romanian migrants, partly because of its flexible labor market and partly because of the ease of access to its benefits system, Migration Watch claims. Photo by BGNES
About 50 000 people from Romania and Bulgaria will come to the UK every year when restrictions are lifted next year, think tank Migration Watch has warned.
It predicts this level annually in the first five years after these controls end, warning of "significant consequences" for housing and jobs, BBC reported.
Migration Watch, which supports tighter immigration controls, said its study suggested its estimates could be considerably higher if there were to be a movement of Roma people to the UK or if some of the nearly one million Romanians resident in Spain and Italy moved to Britain.
It said Germany and the Netherlands were "likely destinations" for Romanian and Bulgarian migrants because their youth unemployment rates were lower than other EU countries.
But it said the UK, with youth unemployment at 20%, "is nonetheless an attractive destination, partly because of its flexible labor market and partly because of the ease of access to its benefits system".
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch said: "It is not good enough to duck making an estimate of immigration from Romania and Bulgaria. It is likely to be on a scale that will have significant consequences for housing and public services.
"It will also add further to the competition which young British workers already face.
"We have therefore produced our own estimate as a contribution to an important debate which must include the ease with which migrants to the UK can currently access the welfare state."
It analysed migration from other European countries and the number of Bulgarians and Romanians already in Britain before making its estimates.
Sarah Mulley, of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank said that although it was "very difficult to predict migration flows with any degree of confidence in these circumstances" the estimates put forward by Migration Watch "look high".
She said: "The UK is opening access to its labour markets along with the rest of Europe and the process of opening up to Bulgaria and Romania has been a gradual one, in contrast with 2004 when the UK was the only large EU country to open its labour market and when borders and labour market access were opened at the same time.
"So it would be very surprising if net migration from Bulgaria and Romania was on the scale predicted by Migration Watch."
Temporary curbs on Romanian and Bulgarian migration were imposed by the Labour government in 2005 to protect the UK labour market.
From next year, like other EU citizens, Bulgarians and Romanians gain the unrestricted right to live and work in the UK where currently, they require authorisation before taking a job.
Ministers say calculations are difficult but the Home Office said it was working to cut net migration.
Prime Minister David Cameron said earlier this week the detail for such calculations "wasn't there yet".
The Home Office said it wanted to move from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands of migrants by the end of this Parliament.
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