The UK will benefit significantly from the arrival of Romanian and Bulgarian workers after the two accession states joined the EU yesterday, according to foreign secretary Margaret Beckett.
‘They [Bulgarians and Romanians] will contribute to the EU,” she said. “In the past few years economic growth in both countries has been rapid and UK trade has boomed alongside it.”
The government announced plans to cap the number of migrant workers from the two Eastern European countries late last year. Estimates of how many migrants will come to the UK vary from 56,000 to 180,000 in 2007.
“Joining the European Union is a great achievement for the people of Romania and Bulgaria. I welcome their success. Both countries deserve to take their place as members of the EU. The journey has transformed both countries, creating opportunities not just for their citizens, but for everyone in the EU and in Britain,” Beckett said.
The government predicted that about 15,000 migrants a year would come to the UK after the eight accession states joined the EU in 2004, but this proved to be a massive underestimate, the total being estimated at almost 700,000.
Shadow home secretary David Davis said the government’s measures to limit the numbers of Bulgarian and Romanian workers coming to the UK were not strong enough and open to abuse.