Immigration From Romania And Bulgaria


Employment, European Union, Family, Health, Welfare Benefits

Immigration from Romania and
Bulgaria could amount to 50,000 a year in the first five years.  That is
the conclusion of a study issued by Migration Watch UK today.  250,000 is the population of a
city of the size of Plymouth or Newcastle. That number could be
considerably higher if there were to be a movement of Roma to the UK or if some
of the nearly one million Romanians in both Spain and Italy should transfer to
Britain.

The government have so far
declined to publish their own estimate. They are very conscious of the
previous government’s catastrophic under estimate of immigration from Poland
and other East European countries in 2004 which Migrationwatch described at the
time as “almost worthless”.

This time round, with the
experience of the East Europeans in mind, it is possible to offer a ball park
estimate of likely immigration from Romania and Bulgaria.  As it happens
their income per head is about 1/5th of that of the UK – as was the
case for Poland in 2004.  Furthermore their youth unemployment is very
high as was also the case in Poland when they joined the EU and both countries
now have established communities in Britain.

The major difference this time
is that all other EU countries will also have to open their labour markets to
Romania and Bulgaria in January 2014.  Fifteen smaller countries and Italy
have already done so. As for larger countries, with youth unemployment in
Spain at 56%, Italy at 37% and France at 27% it would seem that only Germany at
8% and the Netherlands at 9.7% are likely destinations for Romanian and
Bulgarian migrants. Britain, with youth unemployment at 20%, is nonetheless an
attractive destination partly because of its flexible labour market and partly
because of the ease of access to its benefits system.

After examining three
different methods of estimating the likely inflow of migrants from Romania and
Bulgaria, Migration Watch UK has concluded that they would add between 30,000
and 70,000 to our population in each of the next 5 years – giving a central
estimate of 50,000 per year. Claims in Parliament that there could be “an increase of some
one third of a million over present levels, possibly within two years” seem
exaggerated. However, the number of Roma who might come to Britain is a
wild card.

A further wild card is the
presence of nearly 1 million Romanians in Spain among whom nearly 1/3rd
of a million workers were unemployed in 2011. Even if they had access to
unemployment pay in Spain their benefits would run out after one year. There
must, therefore, be a significant risk that they will move to Britain where
access to benefits does not depend on contributions – only on “habitual
residence” which, in practice, is easily acquired. 

One finding of the analysis is
that the International Passenger Survey, the basis of the official immigration
statistics, only picked up half of the East European immigration to the
UK. If this is repeated the official figure for net immigration, which
the government are committed to reducing to tens of thousands, would be
increased by only 25,000 rather than 50,000 a year.

Commenting, Sir Andrew Green,
Chairman of Migrationwatch 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”.

17th January 2013

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