The level of immigration from Bulgaria and Romania to the U.K. once restrictions end next year is “unpredictable,” though the impact on public services is likely to be “modest,” a report for the Foreign Office said.
Research by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research found estimates of the number of possible migrants are “not reliable” because of “economic, political and social factors in Bulgaria, Romania, the U.K., Europe and beyond.”
British ministers have come under pressure to provide statistics for the number of expected migrants from the two most recent European Union members, as voters expressed concern about the impact an influx would have on jobs and state-funded services such as health and education. Far more people from the eight Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 arrived in Britain than the then Labour government forecast.
“Although, given economic conditions in Bulgaria and Romania, the interest in and potential for emigration is significant, the U.K. is not likely to be the preferred destination,” Niesr said. “The main destinations for migrating Bulgarians and Romanians since their countries joined the EU have been Spain and Italy, since these opened their borders earlier and have similarities in language.”
Evidence that Bulgarians and Romanians are settling in southern European nations long-term “may mean they continue to be more popular destinations even after restrictions are lifted across the EU,” Niesr said. “However, unemployment is high and economic prospects are uncertain on both Spain and Italy, which may restrain future migration to these countries.”