Bulgarians and Romanians will gain the unrestricted right to live and work in the UK from December 2013, British Home Secretary Theresa May has confirmed. Temporary curbs imposed in 2005 to protect the British labour market are set to expire on that date.
Experts predict a large number of immigrants from Eastern Europe, which could put pressure on British jobs and wages. The government’s migration advisory committee says there is evidence Bulgarians would move to Britain because of its stronger economy, and it was “plausible” Romanians would come for the same reasons.
The Labor Party have said they would support any moves to extend the ban. But May told the BBC Sunday that was not possible under EU law, although she was hoping to limit the impact on the UK economy. The British government was looking instead at limiting access to benefits and the NHS to reduce the “pull factors” that encouraged migrants to come to the UK, May added. She said she was working on possible limits to free movement with other EU nations – a “growing number” of whom were concerned about “sham marriages” and other abuses of the system.
May insisted the government was still on target to cut annual net migration to the UK, from outside the EU, to below 100,000 by 2015. The number of visas being issued had fallen following a clampdown on abuse of the system, she added, but said there was still a “huge amount of more work to do be done”.