In transition: Romanian and Bulgarian migration to the UK

Published Mon 23 Dec 2013
In January 2014, temporary restrictions on the working rights of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens in the UK will be lifted. This report outlines the potential impacts of new migration flows from eastern Europe and identifies the key lessons UK policymakers can take from the previous wave of new migration, in 2004.

The report draws three key conclusions about the likely shape of migration from Romania and Bulgaria:

  1. It is likely that patterns of migration from Romania and Bulgaria will be different to those seen after the A8 countries joined the EU in 2004.
  2. However, the impacts of future migration from Romania and Bulgaria will be similar to other flows from eastern Europe.
  3. Romanian and Bulgarian migration remains a source of worry for the public, but this has been exacerbated rather than alleviated by political interventions.

The main challenges that arise as the result of new A2 migration flows are likely to relate to increased demand for housing and public services, as well as new arrivals' language needs. Over time, these migrants will accrue more entitlements to welfare, which needs to be planned for. There are also some specific issues that will need to be tackled at both national and local levels, such as the exploitation of workers from these countries and the integration of Roma migrants.

Based on an analysis of the potential concerns, we make a range of recommendations, including:

  • creation of a new cabinet-level Committee on the Impacts of EU Migration, led by a senior cabinet minister and including representatives from the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Home Office and the Treasury
  • that the independent Migration Advisory Committee should produce an annual assessment of the labour market, social and public service impacts of EEA migration in the UK, in order to create a stronger evidence base for policymaking
  • that government should make available a pot of money as a contingency to respond to any short-term pressures created by migration flows from Romania and Bulgaria in the first six months of the year, which could be set at the same level as the previous Migration Impacts Fund
  • that government should draw on existing examples of good practice at the local level in the UK and across Europe on promoting Roma inclusion and develop a clear strategy for this group, in line with what has been recommended by the European Commission.
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