Friday

30th Sep 2022

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • 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.

UK drafts plans to limit Bulgaria and Romania migrants

The UK government is drafting a work permit scheme aimed at limiting the number of Bulgarian and Romanian jobseekers coming to Britain after the two countries join the EU, with both interior and finance ministries in favour of a regime similar to one already in place for other third country nationals.

Europeans say they are tolerant, but oppose immigration

Europeans like to think of themselves as being liberal and tolerant, but at the same time oppose immigration, particularly from countries outside the EU, a poll carried out in Britain, France, Germany, Poland and Spain shows.

Opinion

What von der Leyen's 'State of Union' didn't mention

Ursula von der Leyen barely noticed that European democracy is under attack not only from external threats, but from within. Two of the world's leading autocratic countries are EU member states.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'we are not going to resign...anywhere'
  2. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  3. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  4. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan
  5. Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy
  6. How US tech giants play EU states off against each other
  7. Deregulation of new GMO crops: science or business?
  8. The European shipping giants plying Putin's fossil-fuels trade

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us