UK needs EU migrants

Mar 03 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Far from being a threat to the UK, the immigration of workers from the ten new EU members in Eastern Europe is essential if the country is to stave off its growing labour shortage.

A report from economic forecasting group the Ernst & Young Item Club says that an increase of 70,000 economic migrants would boost UK GDP by £10 billion over the next decade.

The conclusions are in marked contrast to recent media coverage that has claimed that Eastern European immigrants would flock to UK seeking benefits and would be a burden on the state.

According to the European Commission, only one per cent of the working population of the 10 countries would be likely to migrate to existing Member States even if they had total freedom of movement,.

And as the Ernst & Young report points out, people from ten new states tend to be well educated by international standards.

According to Peter Spencer, chief economic advisor to Ernst & Young Item Club and the current scare stories are "missing the point".

"Migration from central Europe has actually been falling in recent years as wage differentials with the UK have moderated somewhat," he said.

"The UK economy will become marginally more efficient and prosperous as a result of the accession of the 10 countries after 1 May.

"But the real focus for UK plc in terms of future economic growth prospects over the next couple of decades should be the emerging Asian economies and in particular China and India."