February 13, 2006

When the EU enlarged in May 2004, the UK estimated that 13,000 workers from the new 10 EU states would go to the UK to work. The numbers released in a recent publication by the EU commission, show the actual number of people who traveled from the new EU states to be closer to 300,000.

The commission report concluded that, far from increasing unemployment and wrecking prospects for British workers – as critics predicted – the arrival of newcomers has stimulated the economy.

When the EU expanded, only Britain, Ireland and Sweden decided not to impose work restrictions. The commission noted that those nations had ” experienced high economic growth, a drop of nemployment and a rise of employment”.

One of the key points in the document is that since May 2004, the rate of employment had increased in the UK and migration has not been higher into countries with open borders than those with tough restrictions, which is not what the alarmists predicted would happen with the opening of the borders.

The document said workers from new nations could help by ” relieving labour shortages in certain areas” and highly skilled workers contributed to “business creation and long-term growth”. They “did not crowd out national workers” but encouraged those working in the black economy to legalize their status and pay taxes.

Overall the number of workers from the new EU members was equivalent to just 0.4 per cent of the UK workforce, lower than in countries such as Germany (0.7 per cent) and Austria (1.4 per cent) which introduced work permits.

  • Poles 162,870
  • Lithuanians 37,275
  • Slovakians 29,395
  • Latvians 18,480
  • Czechs 16,385
  • Hungarians 8,200
  • Estonians 3,855
  • Slovenians 270

Total: 290,695