British Communities Secretary Eric Pickles (in picture) recently warned of an influx of Romanians and Bulgarians which could create a housing problem in London, he said during the TV show Sunday Politics on the BBC.
Asked how many Romanians and Bulgarians the UK expects to see after labor restrictions are eliminated, he could not give an estimation. “I don’t think anybody knows,” he told Andrew Neil on the BBC’s Sunday Politics, adding that more work had to be done on drawing up a robust figure, according to the BBC. However, he said he did not want to start a “scare story” on the issue.
The topic came up as the two were discussing the low rate of housing growth in UK. While there are “no discussions with the Home Office with regards to the numbers.” According to Pickles, individual councils were taking action to prepare for a possible large increase in the numbers of people moving to the UK from the two countries next year, he added.
“Given that we’ve got a housing shortage, any influx from Romania and Bulgaria is going to cause problems – it’s going to cause problems, not just in terms of the housing market but also on social housing markets.” The full BBC story here.
Pickles is not the only British official who has expressed his concern over the upcoming opening of the market for Romanians and Bulgarians, but other voices were stronger.
The leader of British anti-EU party UKIP (UK Independence Party) Nigel Farage has described the opening of the UK’s borders to Romanians and Bulgarians next year as “irresponsible and wrong.”
However, despite certain voices spreading scare stories of a huge influx of Romanians and Bulgarians, a recent BBC Newsnight program suggested that the reality may well be quite different. The current affair program talked to Romanians, and although some said they would consider moving to the UK, many had other plans. Commentators in Romania suggested that the big exodus had already happened over the years since Romania joined the EU. Meanwhile, director of UK think-tank David Goodhart said he does not expect anything like the number of immigrants seen in 2004 after many Eastern European states joined the EU.
Mr Goodhart estimates that between 10,000 and 20,000 Romanians and Bulgarians will go to the UK, but given the British government’s current policy, even this low number could be a problem. Head of global immigration at PwC Julia Onslow Cole expressed concern over how Romanian and Bulgarian immigration could affect non-EU immigrants. She said the UK government may try to keep total immigration down by restricting immigrants from outside the EU, which she said would damage UK businesses needing specialized workers.
Nigel Farage said that he and his party would campaign throughout 2013 against the opening of UK borders to Romanians and Bulgarians next year. Transitional controls on Romania and Bulgaria expire after a maximum of seven years, which means that EU member states will be duty bound to extend full membership rights to Romania and its people from the beginning of 2014.
Nigel Farage also claimed that Eastern Europeans were moving to the UK and claiming unemployment benefits “from day one.” The other politicians in the discussion contested whether moving to the UK and claiming benefits straight away was possible.
Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May MP said in November 2012 that there are “no further transitional controls” that the UK can put on Romanians and Bulgarians emigrating to the country after December 2013.
Not only politicians, but some of the British media as well have been spreading fears over the expected ‘migration’ of Romanians and Bulgarians to UK, with some media estimating the number of immigrants almost as high as the entire population of the two countries.
(photo source: Eric Pickles’s website)