The number of Romanians and Bulgarians living in the UK (A2 migrants) rose by approximately the same rate in 2014 as in 2013, the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford informed on Tuesday, showing that when the “transitional controls” on A2 migrants claiming benefits or working in the UK ended on January 1, 2014, there was not the giant influx the press and some politicians had predicted.
The researchers, who had gathered and examined data from the Office for National Statistic’s Labour Force Survey, found that the population of Bulgarians and Romanians in the UK rose by 47,000 to 205,000 in the third quarter of 2013 to 252,000 in Q3 2014. From Q3 2012 to Q3 2012 the increase had been 45,000, not a statistically significant difference.
Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, Madeleine Sumption, said:
“The growth in the Romanian and Bulgarian population of the UK has been steady for the last 7 years, despite transitional controls that limited their access to the labour market and welfare state in the UK. The end of those controls doesn’t seem to have had a very significant effect.”
The growth in Bulgarian and Romanian populations has been steady, said Ms. Sumption.
Lifting restrictions did not open floodgates
The government did not publish any estimates on how many Bulgarians or Romanians might migrate to the UK after transitional labour market controls were lifted in January 2014. The press, especially tabloids did, however – forecasting a deluge of migrants.
One day before the restrictions were lifted, leader of UKIP (the anti-EU party) Nigel Farage warned that the UK would experience a flood of migrants from Bulgaria and Romania that would spur a “Romanian crime wave.”
Ms. Sumption said:
“Immigration from Romania and Bulgaria has been much more gradual than flows from the EU member states that joined in 2004. In 2004, the UK was one of only three EU member states that did not introduce transitional labour market controls on migrants from new accession states, and saw a sharp increase in migration from these countries.”
“It seems likely that the controls imposed in 2007, together with the weak economy at the end of the decade, may have slowed the pace of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants settling in the UK.”
A separate study, carried out by a team at University College London found that European migrants paid £4.96 billion more in taxes than they took in benefits in the UK. EU migrants living in the UK since 2000 have contributed more than £20 billion in taxes.