business

Britain to Ease Limits on Balkan Workers?

A promised review of the ban on Bulgarian and Romanian workers may lead to its removal

The UK government has announced it will review its temporary limits on Bulgarian and Romanian workers with a possibility of lifting them completely.

The review of the British closed-door policy on the latest EU newcomers is expected by the end of this year along with an introduction of a points-based system for non-EU migrants, on the basis of advice by Migration Impacts Forum.

The new body consists of experts from local government, police, health care and education sectors, business and unions, analysing wider implications of migration on the public services as well as on labour shortages in the country.

Immigration minister Liam Byrne, who co-chairs the forum said the modified system will provide for London to "start counting people in and out of Britain."

"When we set the bar that migrants need to cross we won't just listen to business. Today we deliver our promise to systematically listen to other voices before we set immigration policy," he added, according to Reuters.

But according to UK daily The Times, a Home Office document published on Thursday (21 June) opens the way to allowing in more Bulgarians and Romanians with curbs on numbers to be reviewed or cancelled by the end of the year.

Britain and Ireland introduced limitations on migrants from the two countries before their EU entry this year due to a higher than expected inflow of newcomers from central and eastern Europe.

Before 2004 enlargement, British officials had expected about 15,000 migrant workers a year to arrive in the country, but over 600,000 have taken the plunge in just two years.

Under the UK system, there is a precisely-set quota of 19,750 low-skilled Bulgarian and Romanian workers that are allowed to come and work in agriculture and food processing.

The specialist jobs can be filled by them without such limitations but only if there are no local residents available or interested.

It is estimated that nearly 8,000 Romanians and Bulgarians came into the UK between January and March this year, plus 2,400 who joined the seasonal agricultural workers' scheme, according to UK reports.

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