Thursday

17th Jan 2019

British migration fears overblown, says report

  • Migrants from Romania and Bulgaria move abroad to work, not to stay unemployed (Photo: afagen)

Fears of massive migration and exploitation of the British welfare system are overblown, says a report published on Friday (5 April) by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

"Survey evidence suggests that the UK is not a strongly favoured location for those interested in migrating. There is little firm evidence to suggest that flows will therefore increase substantially once transitional controls are lifted," says the report.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The study was commissioned by the UK government amid heated tabloid debate in Britain about whether the lifting of labour restrictions at the end of this year will lead to many Romanians and Bulgarians travelling to the UK,

Based on an analysis of surveys, statistics and academic papers in Britain, Bulgaria and Romania, the report lists Spain and Italy as the preferred destinations for migrants from the two Balkan countries.

Numbers in Britain, according to the Labour Force Survey, are "relatively low." Some 26,000 Bulgarians and 80,000 Romanians are currently living in Britain.

The report stresses that the main motivation for people from Romania and Bulgaria to move abroad is to work, not to claim welfare benefits.

As elsewhere in the EU, Romanians and Bulgarians in Britain are "overwhelmingly young, aged under 35", without children and work in jobs often below their academic or professional qualifications, in hotels, restaurants, cleaning services and construction.

"In relation to health services, 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," the report reads, in reference to government plans to limit the access of migrants to British health care.

"One consideration is whether much migration from Bulgaria and Romania to the UK has already happened, but is confined to ... 'self employment' and employment in the grey economy. It is possible that once restrictions are lifted, actual numbers of [Romanian and Bulgarian] citizens working in the UK may not increase substantially."

The report also lists four previous 'waves' of migration from these two countries to other EU states: the break-up of the Eastern Block in 1989 and subsequent migration between 1990-1995, the collapse of the Bulgarian economy in 1996, lifting visa restrictions for Bulgaria and Romania in 2001 and their EU membership in 2007.

None of these events resulted in massive migration to the UK.

As for Roma migration, the report notes that it is "mostly temporary and circular, with two thirds of Roma returning to Bulgaria within less than six months."

The report also warns against any numerical estimates of people arriving from these two countries once labour market restrictions are lifted next year.

The authors say there is a lack of accurate data on current migration for both permanent residents and temporary workers. The report cites the "unpredictability of migration" given changing political and economic factors in Romania and Bulgaria, as well as Europe in general.

"Consequently, any numerical estimates of potential migration to the UK are likely to be inaccurate and misleading," they conclude. Anti-migration groups have predicted about 50,000 new arrivals once restrictions are lifted, while the Communities Secretary estimated 13,000.

Dutch call for 'code orange' on EU labour migration

The Dutch social affairs minister has called on the EU to focus on the "negative consequences," of labour migration from Romania and Bulgaria, despite studies showing the fear is overblown.

News in Brief

  1. Another referendum 'would take a year', Downing St says
  2. 82-year old Berlusconi to run in EU elections
  3. EU parliament votes to triple funds for democracy promotion
  4. EU parliament backs linking budget payments to rule of law
  5. Verhofstadt voted for Draghi amendment 'by mistake'
  6. 'Plan B' Brexit vote in UK parliament set for 29 January
  7. Verhofstadt wanted Draghi out of G30 group
  8. Putin heads to Serbia amid warnings against West

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  2. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  3. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  4. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  5. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  6. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  7. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  8. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us