A recently – published study issued by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) and ordered by UK’s Foreign Office shows the UK is not among the main migrations destinations for Romanians and Bulgarians. The findings of the report contradict British politicians, including Prime Minister David Cameron, who warned a wave of migration from the two countries was to hit UK once labor restrictions lift at the beginning of 2014.
The report found that target migration countries for Romanians and Bulgarians remain Spain and Italy, and to a lesser extent, Germany. Romanian and Bulgarian migrants, called EU2 migrants in the report, usually work in constructions, accommodation and catering and in private households in work such as care and cleaning. According to data from the Labor Force Survey, numbers of EU2 migrants living in the UK are relatively low , at 26,000 Bulgarians and 80,000 Romanians, according to the report, but its authors say the sample survey may undercount migrant numbers.
“As elsewhere in the EU, EU2 migrants are overwhelmingly young, aged under 35. However, men in a small majority and have a skill profile higher than elsewhere in the EU, with most having intermediate qualifications. This bundle of characteristics is likely to reflect current restrictions on employment of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals in the UK,” according to the recent study.
Bulgarian and Romanian migrants in the UK are concentrated in four sectors: hospitality, cleaning services, construction and trade. They also show higher rates of self-employment than other Eastern European migrants, but again these patterns again are likely to reflect current restrictions on their employment, according to the study authors. They speculate that the profile of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants to the UK will change once the restrictions will be lifted.
“While difficult to predict, we believe that EU migrants’ employment patterns in Spain reflect the Spanish labor market, and opportunities for migrant workers. Therefore, it would seem most likely that any further EU2 migration to the UK will follow the pattern of EU8 migration and therefore be concentrated in lower, rather than intermediate or highly skilled work. The profile of further EU2 migrants to the UK is also likely to be young and without families, initially at least,” the report found.
The report was however criticized, including by Sir Andrew Green from Migration Watch UK, who said: “This report is a bucket of whitewash. In 60 pages it produces no estimate whatever of the likely future scale of Romanian and Bulgarian migration to the UK. It doesn’t even address the only estimate published so far – by Migration Watch UK which has a strong record in these matters. It brushes aside any indication of an increase in migration from these countries whose workers are amongst the most mobile in the EU. Furthermore it avoids tackling the key question of how many Romanian and Bulgarian migrants now in Spain and Italy might transfer to Britain.” Green is a former British diplomat and the founding chairman of the organization Migration Watch UK, an independent think tank focusing on the levels of immigration to the United Kingdom.
In the past, British politicians warned around 300,000 to 400,000 migrants from Romania and Bulgaria were to arrive in UK once the labor restrictions end in the beginning of 2014. The report however has no indication of how many migrants to be expected, but it says future migration from Bulgaria and Romania is unlikely to have a significant impact. Economic migrants, in particular, are generally young and healthy and, as such, do not make major demands on health services. A bigger impact could be foreseen on schools: While existing evidence suggests that migrant children do not have a negative impact on school performance, language assistance will need to be provided, at least for any new arrivals from Bulgaria and Romania,” according to the report. The full report can be read here.