Global Economics

EU Migrants Still Pouring into Britain


Since the 2004 enlargement of the bloc, more than half a million workers from new member states have entered Britain, which still gets about 20,000 per month

Almost two years after enlargement, Britain is still receiving an estimated 20,000 workers per month from new EU member states, according to fresh figures published by the UK's Home Office on Tuesday (27 February).

The number of migrants differs according to the seasons, with more new workers coming during the summer rather than in winter, but overall a total of 232,000 registrations were made last year.

The figure means that, altogether, 579,000 workers from new EU states have entered the UK since the 2004 enlargement of the union.

Poles in 2006 represented almost two thirds of all new applicants (65%), followed by Lithuanians (11%) and Slovaks (10%), while the number of migrants from other countries dropped by a quarter in the final months of 2006.

Most of the migrants from new Europe have found jobs in administration (around 100,000), restaurants and catering (38,000) or in agriculture (19,700). Some also work as bus or lorry drivers or in the public sphere - as doctors and teachers.

But the government's figures do not include self-employed people, with thousands having gone to the UK to work as plumbers or builders, according to Guardian.

Britain was one of three countries which opened up its labour market for the eight newcomers from central and eastern Europe but opted to temporarily close the door to Bulgarians and Romanians as a result of the unexpected surge of migrants.

Meanwhile, some EU newcomers will in the future be facing shortages of labour themselves, according to a separate fresh study by the Dutch SEO Economic Research think-tank.

The SEO study says the Czech Republic will by 2050 face a shortage of 1.4 million workers - or nearly one third of the current working population.

In the EU as a whole, the shortage of workers will reach almost 32 million by 2050 primarily due to an ageing population, the report says.

"I have a leaky roof, so I called some workmen and they put me on a three month waiting list!" one Polish official based in Warsaw told EUobserver.

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