The number of Rumanians and Bulgarians allowed to work in the UK will be restricted, the Home Secretary has indicated.
According to a report in The Independent, John Reid appears to be bowing to growing pressure to curb immigration from Eastern Europe.
Reid has said that immigration from Rumania and Bulgaria would need to be ‘carefully managed’ if the former Communist countries join the EU next year.
Earlier this week several newspapers reported that a “stampede for passports to a new life in Britain began just minutes after our borders are thrown open to Bulgaria and Romania.”
Long queues formed outside police stations in Romania, where staff issue the pictures needed for passport applications. Few had bothered to obtain passports in the past, but are now desperate to get their hands on the £25 travel document which, from January 1, will give them a ticket to a new life.
Over 600,000 east Europeans, mostly from Poland, have moved to the UK since 2004 when eight former Communist countries joined the EU. The EU will allow Romania and Bulgaria to join from January, prompting fears that Britain will be flooded with migrants from the two new members.
The government is considering a scheme restrict access via a work permit system, in which migrants would be required to prove they have specific skills. The permits would be similar to the points-based scheme used for migrants from outside the EU, which looks at education, qualifications and earning power.
It is not clear whether the restriction on free movement could be open to a legal challenge by the latest EU members. All EU citizens have the right of free movement and the government cannot stop migrants moving to Britain as self employed workers.
For regular immigration updates see http://www.immigrationmatters.co.uk
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