At just the time that the government is calling on the private sector to create jobs, they are negotiating in secret an agreement between the EU and India that would allow an unlimited number of Indian specialists to do work in Britain that has not been first offered to British workers. This could well blast a hole in Britain's immigration controls – that is the conclusion of a paper issued today by Migrationwatch.
The EU/India Free Trade Agreement due to be signed in December will permit Indian corporations to transfer specialist staff to EU countries, notably the UK, without any upper limit on numbers.
This has potentially serious implications for Britain:
- the initiative will be in the hands of Indian companies who win a service contract in the EU.
- there is, apparently, to be no limit on numbers.
- staff only have to have worked for one year with the Indian company concerned.
- there is no test to see if a British worker is available.
- the concessions become irreversible by individual member states because they will have been granted under the trade arrangements which are matters for Commission competence
- the UK will be the main target of Indian companies, largely for language reasonsbut also because they are already well established here.
- the period that workers are allowed to stay will, in theory, be limited to three years but, in practice, it will be impossible to find and return any who overstay.
This Agreement could, of course, present very serious problems in implementing a cap on economic migration to which the coalition government are committed. The concessions under it would have to be operated outside any cap or the level of the cap would have to be adjusted to allow for demand for Intra Company Transfer visas from India. There may be scope for a minimum salary but such conditions are notoriously hard to enforce.
Commenting, Sir Andrew Green Chairman of Migrationwatch said, ‘It is time the government came clean about what is in this agreement. It looks as though the Indians are about to drive a bullock and cart through Britain's immigration system despite government talk about creating jobs in the private sector. There is no point in a limit on economic migration if specialists from India are excluded from the cap by a separate agreement. British IT workers are already suffering the impact on jobs of tens of thousands of Indian IT staff working in Britain; we already have 48,000 unemployed British IT specialists.’