Great Britain reportedly fears an influx of fresh immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria – only a decade after its absorbed thousands of Poles – after it lifts its labor market restrictions on the first day of the new year. In the meantime, the tabloid press is putting pressure on David Cameron’s government causing the Parliament to rush through the legislation that will prevent newcomers from claiming unemployment benefits in the country. Due to the lack of an official forecast on how many Bulgarians and Romanians could potentially show interest in working in the United Kingdom, the existing unofficial reports talk about the range between 30,000 and 70,000 annually.
The issue of immigrants from the “new” member states is highly sensitive in Britain as the Labor government admitted it had underestimated the situation when it opened the gates of its labor market after the EU’s biggest enlargement in 2004. Since then, the country has officially absorbed about 640,000 Poles whereas the unofficial figures speak about one million newcomers. The Polish community, being the largest group that came in the last decade, is likely also the UK’s biggest minority. The representatives of the government admitted that the situation after 2004 was “disastrous” for them as they expected about 13,000 coming every year, while more than a million have come since.
Nigel Mills, a lawmaker from Cameron’s Conservative Party, submitted a parliamentary motion lobbying for an extended period of restriction by five years, which would apply to Romanians and Bulgarians, since the current term seems to be too short for the members of Parliament. Mr. Milled added that the new influx of immigrants could be potentially very dangerous for the British economy, which has still not fully recovered from the economic crisis and the unemployment remains fairly high by UK standards.