A number of British news sources, including the BBC, are reporting on a prediction from think tank Migration Watch that 50,000 Romanians and Bulgarians a year will move to the UK from 2014. Transitional controls on Romanians and Bulgarians expire on January 1, 2014, and the prospect of citizens of the two countries gaining their full EU rights to freedom of movement has sparked concern in the UK.
Migration Watch campaigns for tougher controls on immigration to the UK. “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,” said chairman of Migration Watch Sir Andrew Green. The organization also predicts that the 50,000 a year figure for immigration from Romania and Bulgaria to the UK will continue for five years.
Politicians from the major parties, including the UK Prime Minister and members of the ruling coalition, have been reluctant to put an exact figure on expected immigration. Predictions in hundreds of thousands have been described as improbable by many, but according to the BBC, estimates from Migration Watch have previously proved accurate. Even so, Migration Watch admits that it is difficult to know exactly how many people will go to the UK from Romania and Bulgaria.
There has been much debate in the UK over the ending of restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians. Anti-EU party UKIP has seized on the issue and painted a picture of hordes of people from the Balkans waiting to flood in the UK. There have also been many references to 2004 when hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans, particularly Poles, went to the UK following the EU expansion. What groups like UKIP do not point out is the stark difference in the situation. At the time, the UK was the only large EU economy not to impose immigration controls on the new member states and took the brunt of the first big post-accession emigration from the Eastern block countries. The current situation is different, transitional controls will be lifted across the EU and a number of countries have long since relaxed controls.
Read the BBC article and analysis.
Liam Lever, email@example.com