Sunday

25th Sep 2016

UK moots blocking health access for EU migrants

EU migrants could be prevented from using Britain's National Health Service (NHS) under government measures to dissuade Romanian and Bulgarian citizens moving to the UK.

Mark Harper MP, immigration minister, indicated on Monday (28 January) that migrants without a job could be blocked from using NHS services and forced to have private health insurance.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Harper: 'We have a National Health Service, not an international health service' (Photo: surroundsound500)

The government is also considering whether to deport migrants who do not find a job within three months.

"EU students and those that are self-sufficient should not be a burden on the host member state, which means they should have things like health insurance. We have a National Health Service, not an international health service," Harper said.

Hsrper spoke in the context of a British debate on what to do about Bulgaria and Romania.

The two countries joined the EU in 2007, with a number of EU countries, including Britain, putting in place transitional rules limiting their right to live and work elsewhere in the EU.

But the rules expire at the end of 2013 and it is impossible under EU law to continue them.

Speaking with reporters during a daily government press briefing on Tuesday (29 January), David Cameron's spokesman admitted that the government is looking at ways to curb economic migration.

"The issue here is around dealing with potential damage to the UK's labour market and potential scope for curbing immigration to that end," he said.

He added that "we're in the process of considering what we may be able to do. Clearly there is a European legal framework within which we have to operate. Clearly there may be some areas where we may want to co-operate with other member states."

A study released earlier this month by MigrationWatch, an influential group that lobbies in favour of tighter control of immigration, estimated that 250,000 Romanian and Bulgarian citizens could arrive in the UK over the next five years.

MigrationWatch claims that Britain has seen net migration of 3 million since 1997.

It also issued a statement that the coalition was "very conscious of the previous government’s catastrophic under estimate of immigration from Poland and other east European countries in 2004."

The group's chairman, Sir Anthony Green, warned that migration levels were "likely to be on a scale that will have significant consequences for housing and public services."

The Conservative-led coalition is anxious to keep to its ambitious target to limit net migration under 100,000 per year.

According to the UK's Office of National Statistics, net migration between March 2011 and 2012 stood at 183,000, well down on 242,000 from the previous year.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. GoogleBringing Education to Refugees in Lebanon With the Clooney Foundation for Justice
  2. HuaweiAn Industry-leading ICT Solution Provider and Building a Better World
  3. World VisionUN Refugees Meeting a Wasted Opportunity to Improve the Lives of Millions of Children
  4. Belgrade Security ForumCan Democracy Survive Global Disorder?
  5. YouthProAktivEntrepreneurship, Proactivity, Innovation - Turn Ideas Into Action #IPS2016
  6. GoogleTrimming the Waste-Line: Weaving Circular Economy Principles Into Our Operations
  7. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeDon't Miss the Mega Conference to Master Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  8. Martens CentreFighting Terrorism: Do we have what it takes? 26 September, Brussels
  9. ACCAKaras Report on Access to Finance for SMEs in a Capital Markets Union
  10. Centre Maurits Coppieters"I still believe we can change Europe" Said David Grosclaude
  11. World VisionThe Child Protection Index to be Launched in Brussels on 28 September 2016
  12. HuaweiDigital Transformation: Unleashing Europe’s Potential