UK cannot continue immigration controls on Bulgarians and Romanians

The UK's Home Secretary Theresa May MP has said that the UK is not able to extend controls on the migration of Bulgarians and Romanians beyond December 2013. However, she said that she was considering other options to limit the numbers of people coming to the UK from those countries. Mrs May was appearing on the BBC political programme The Andrew Marr Show.

Mrs May, who is responsible for enforcing the UK's immigration policy, told Andrew Marr that temporary controls put in place in 2007 when Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union could not be extended because the UK had signed a treaty which forbade any further extension. However, she said that she was looking at other ways of preventing Bulgarians and Romanians from coming to the UK. She said she was looking at ways of preventing 'pull factors' from attracting migrants to the UK. She said she would look at limiting access to free healthcare and to benefits. She also hinted that she would look at only allowing free movement rights to the UK for EU citizens who have jobs in the UK rather than to all EU citizens.

Mrs May said 'I am looking at free movement generally across the EU. Originally it was free movement of workers. It has been extended over the years.' She said 'There is a growing group of countries in the EU who are very concerned about the abuse of free movement. That is looking particularly at issues like sham marriages, forged documents and so forth, and we are working together to reduce the abuse of free movement.'

Existing EU countries are entitled to place temporary controls on immigration when a new state joins the EU. By treaty, they can be in place for seven years. Some UK politicians fear that, when the transitional controls on the movement of Romanians and Bulgarians expire, many people will decide they wish to live and work in Britain. They point to what happened when Poland and ten other countries joined the EU on May 1st 2004. Many European countries put transitional controls in place to prevent mass migration but the UK, Ireland and Sweden did not do so.

David Blunkett, the UK's Home Secretary at the time, said in 2004 that he expected only 13,000 people to come to the UK from the new EU member states each year. By July 2006, it was estimated that 600,000 people had settled in the UK. That figure is now believed to be about 2.3m. The Home Office has not attempted to calculate how many Romanians and Bulgarians are likely to come to the UK in 2014.

The UK's Labour Party opposition has said that the controls should be kept in place. Last week, Yvette Cooper MP, the shadow Home Secretary, told Andrew Marr that Labour would support the government if it took action to maintain the controls. However, Mrs May said that this would not be possible. To do so would be a breach of Britain's European Union treaty commitments.

The Migration Advisory Committee, a body established by the Home Office to advise on migration, has said that there is evidence that some Bulgarians would move to Britain to find work and that the same might well be true of Romanians.

The UK's Foreign Secretary, William Hague MP is to review many facets of the UK's relationship with the EU. He will consider the issue of freedom of movement as part of that review.

Workpermit.com is a specialist visa consultancy with nearly twenty-five years of experience dealing with visa applications. We are OISC registered. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to the UK or your country of choice. Please feel free to contact us for further details.