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5th Mar 2024

UK to benefit from Bulgarian and Romanian migrants, study says

  • Heathrow airport: 1 January did not see Bulgarians and Romanians arrive in large numbers, as predicted (Photo: Curt Smith)

A Swedish economist has said Bulgarians and Romanians who work in other EU states are likely to contribute more to the economy than they take out in benefits.

A study published last week by Joakim Ruist, a research fellow at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg, found that the UK and Ireland stand to benefit the most from the net contributions.

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“The UK and Ireland seem to be two countries in which there are good reasons to expect even more positive results,” Ruist told this website on Wednesday (15 January).

He said the ratio to cost in the two countries are likely to be higher, due, in part, to their restrictive welfare systems.

He drew his conclusions by studying the impact of Bulgarians and Romanians in Sweden, where they have been free to work since they joined the EU in 2007.

He found that both nationals contribute 30 percent more to the Swedish economy than they take out.

He then extrapolated the Swedish numbers to other EU countries which did impose transitional labour restrictions.

He says the structure of welfare systems in the UK and Ireland means the two are also likely to see net gains.

But he warned it is too early to measure situation in the UK, which lifted its ban on 1 January.

“You cannot evaluate it [yet] … they only took away the restrictions in the UK two weeks ago,” he said.

Nine member states imposed a full blown seven-year labour restriction.

Fifteen did not impose any curbs, while the others are a mixed bag: Ireland, for instance, imposed restrictions which expired in 2012.

Ruist drew similar conclusions for the 14 non-restrictors.

“Not only is there no evidence of widespread abuse of welfare systems by eastern European migrants - if anything, public finances in the richer EU15 countries appear to have gained from their eastern European post-enlargement immigration,” Ruist said on Vox, a website run by the UK-based Centre for Economic Policy Research.

The issue has generated heated debate in the UK, where newspapers and politicians have stoked fears that Romanians and Bulgarians will arrive in large numbers and take away local jobs.

But so far there is no evidence to underpin the claims.

EU social affairs commissioner Laszlo Andor made a similar point earlier this week.

He told reporters in Brussels that mobile workers from other EU countries pay more in tax and social security into host countries' treasuries than they receive in benefits.

“The more workers from other EU countries a country has, the more solvent its welfare system is,” he said.

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