As Euro­pean Union con­tin­ues to ex­pand, fear of in­creased mi­gra­tion grows

The Washington Times Weekly - - World - By Al Webb

LON­DON — Nearly a half-mil­lion work­ers from for­mer com­mu­nist coun­tries of East­ern Europe have en­tered Bri­tain since EU ex­pan­sion two years ago, pro­mot­ing fears of a cri­sis next year when Ro­ma­nia and Bul­garia en­ter the Euro­pean Union.

FromMay2004 to June this year, 447,000 mi­grants from eight new EUmem­ber states landed in Bri­tain look­ing for work, the Home Of­fice said in a re­port is­sued Aug. 22.

The re­port said the im­mi­grants had not ad­versely af­fected em­ploy­ment or wage lev­els in the na­tion of 60 mil­lion. How­ever, it stirred con­cern about the up­com­ing ad­mis­sion of Bul­garia and Ro­ma­nia.

“We are yet to take a de­ci­sion as to what ac­cess Bul­gar­ian and Ro­ma­nian na­tion­als will have to our la­bor mar­ket when they join the EU,” said TonyMcNulty, min­is­ter for polic­ing, se­cu­rity and com­mu­nity safety, in re­leas­ing the re­port.

He said the fig­ure could be closer to 600,000 if self-em­ployed for­eign work­ers were in­cluded.

This would cover East­ern Euro­peans in the build­ing trade, who make up a siz­able work force in Bri­tain.

Some crit­ics say im­mi­gra­tion be­cause of an ex­panded Euro­pean Union is putting se­vere pres­sure on the na­tion’s wel­fare, ed­u­ca­tion and health in­fra­struc­ture.

“There is clearly a con­tin­u­ing mas­sive flow of mi­grants­fromEastern Europe,” said for­mer Bri­tish diplo­mat Andrew Green, who is chair­man of the re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion Mi­gra­tionwatch.

“The­case for plac­ing re­stric­tions on Ro­ma­ni­ans and Bul­gar­i­ans is now [un­ques­tion­able].”

Mark Boleat of the As­so­ci­a­tion of La­bor Providers told the Bri­tish Broad­cast­ing Corp. that be­yond the gov­ern­ment’s count of 447,000 mi­grants, 100,000 work­ers, and pos­si­bly many more, had ar­rived in Bri­tain with­out reg­is­ter­ing.

The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment, be­liev­ing in free move­ment of work­ers across borders in the Euro­pean bloc, im­posed few lim­its when the im­mi­gra­tion pres­sure be­gan build­ing in May2004, with the ad­mis­sion to the union of eight EasternEurope states: Poland, Lithua­nia, Slo­vakia, the Czech Repub­lic, Es­to­nia, Hun­gary, Latvia and Slove­nia.

That opened the door to work­ers from the so-called “A8” na­tions, once be­hind the Iron Cur­tain, to go af­ter jobs in Bri­tain.

TheEUen­large­ment treaty gives gov­ern­ments the right to re­strict mi­gra­tion from the A8 coun­tries, but it im­poses no lim­its on two wealth­ier newmem­bers,Mal­taand Cyprus.

The Home Of­fice re­port said 264,560 ap­pli­cants came from Poland, fol­lowed by 50,535 from Lithua­nia and 44,300 from Slo­vakia.

The ap­pli­cants ap­proved­to­be­gin work in­cluded fac­tory work­ers, wait­ers and wait­resses, kitchen and cater­ing as­sis­tants, bus and truck driv­ers, care work­ers, teach­ers, den­tal prac­ti­tion­ers, doc­tors, nurses and med­i­cal spe­cial­ists.

Mr.McNulty in­sisted that the latest Home Of­fice fig­ures “showthat mi­grant­work­ers­from the ac­ces­sion states are ben­e­fit­ing the United King­dom, by fill­ing skills and la­bor gaps that can­not be met from the UK-born pop­u­la­tion.”

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