Tuesday

18th Jun 2019

UK vows to control immigration as Bulgaria, Romania curbs end

The UK has vowed to control immigration, as restrictions on the free movement of workers from Bulgaria and Romania are lifted throughout the whole of the EU.

“We’ve already capped welfare and cut immigration and this year we’ll carry on, building an economy for people who work hard and play by the rules,” UK Prime Minister David Cameron said in his new year speech on Wednesday (1 January).

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

  • Cameron: 'We’ve already capped welfare and cut immigration and this year we’ll carry on' (Photo: Mrs. Knook)

Cameron did not single out Romania and Bulgaria, but their new-found freedom has generated heated debate in the UK in recent months, as some politicians and media stoked fears of large arrivals and so-called benefit tourism.

With the seven-year transitional labour restrictions lifted, Bulgarians and Romanians will no longer have to apply for special work permits for some job categories in the UK.

But Cameron has imposed restrictions on welfare access for new arrivals in what is seen as a broader effort to win back voters from the anti-immigrant political party Ukip.

Meanwhile, authorities in both Sofia and Bucharest say the UK's fear of a large number of arrivals is unfounded. People who wanted to leave and work in the UK have already done so, they say.

British media and politicians greeted the first arrivals of Romanians and Bulgarians at London’s Luton airport on Wednesday.

Most were returning to jobs they already had in the UK, reports The Guardian.

The EU, for its part, says some 3 million Romania and Bulgarians already work and live other member states.

“It is unlikely that there will be any major increase following the ending of the final restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers,” said EU commissioner for employment Laszlo Andor in a statement.

The commissioner pointed out migrants contribute more to a country’s tax base than they take out, but are often used as “easy targets” by politicians who speak of welfare abuse or of new arrivals taking jobs from locals.

Most job migrants, Andor noted, are young people who fill labour and skill shortages in the host country.

Member states can also tap into the €10 billion European Social Fund (ESF) to shore up local housing, education, and social services if they come under strain from new arrivals.

“From 1 January 2014, each member state should spend at least 20 percent of ESF funds on promoting social inclusion and combating poverty,” the commissioner said.

EU parliament backs whistleblower law

MEPs backed an EU law to protect whistleblowers from retaliation in both the public and private sectors. EU states will have two years to transpose the directive.

EU commission to map gender recognition

The European Commission will start looking at how EU states determine genders - as part of an effort to make it easier for people to determine their own identities.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  2. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  3. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  4. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  5. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  6. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  7. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July
  8. Austria's Strache will not take up EU parliament seat

Stakeholder

FIFA's schools programme aims to reach 700m children

Football clubs today invest huge sums of money in youth development and court talented young players from an early age. Children are the future – not only where football is concerned, but also for society in general.

Opinion

A fundamental contradiction in EU drug policy

The knock-on affects from a 'war on drugs' in Europe is creating problems in Albania - and as far afield as Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  2. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  3. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  4. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  5. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  6. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  7. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  8. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us