UK Minister: No mass Bulgarian, Romanian immigration expected

There will be no mass migration of Bulgarians and Romanians, coming to the UK for work in the new year when labour market restrictions are lifted, the immigration minister has said.

In the first official assessment of the likely flow of Romanians and Bulgarians to Britain when the curbs are removed on 1 January, the minister, Mark Harper, said the situation this time would not replicate the mass arrival of Poles to the UK 10 years ago.

“There is a big difference with 2004 when we were the only major country not to have transitional controls and all the other big countries did.

“Anybody who wanted to work here legally came to the UK,” he told a Home Office press briefing:

He suggested that Bulgarians and Romanians were more likely to go to Germany, Italy and Spain than Britain.

Harper also criticised Tory rightwingers who have been demanding that the seven-year "transitional controls" on Romanians and Bulgarians be extended after January.

"It is simply not legally possible."

He called it "a fool's errand" to try to predict the numbers that would go to the UK.

The former home secretary Jack Straw had said last week, he added, that a "spectacular mistake" was made in 2004 when academic estimates suggested that only 15,000 Polish and other east European migrants at that time would go to Britain.

He said there were now eight other countries also removing their controls.

"We are therefore not in the same position as previously, when we were the only country that was an option for those wishing to migrate. There are now a range of other European countries in the eurozone, including Germany, which is an economic powerhouse that is generating jobs and creating economic growth."

On 1 January 2014, Bulgarians and Romanians will be able to work anywhere in the European Union as the last of their membership restrictions are lifted.

Adapted from Novinite