Nick Clegg In The Debate And The True Scale Of Eu Migration


European Union, Policy

On April 2nd The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader took part in a debate on the European Union in which questions were taken from members of the studio audience. One question asked about the level of immigration and its impact on infrastructure[1].

“Although I believe that immigration is essential for all European economies, I do think it needs to be controlled and am concerned that the UK’s infrastructure can’t cope with the current high levels.  How would you address that?”

Addressing the scale of EU migration, Nick Clegg replied:

 “About one and a half million people from elsewhere in the EU have come to our country since 2004, about half of them have gone home.”

Recent Migration from the EU

2. There are two sets of official statistics that give an insight into the scale of immigration; the Long Term International Migration Statistics and the Annual Population Survey.  The Migration Statistics do estimate that, between 2004 and 2012, 1.5 million EU citizens immigrated to the UK while 743,000 (49%) left the UK, giving a figure for net migration of 776,000[2], excluding the significant inflow of 2013 which will not be published until May   However, these figures are known to be wrong.

3. The Annual Population Survey provides an estimate of the population both by country of birth and by nationality[3].  The population living in the UK but born elsewhere in the EU went from 1.5 million in 2004 to 2.6 million in 2012, an increase of 1.1 million. 

4.  However, the question related to the impact of immigration on infrastructure such as housing and school places and so the children of the migrants are also relevant.  The Annual Population Survey also shows that the population of EU nationals living in the UK increase by 1¼   million between 2004 and 2012, not by ¾ million as Nick Clegg claimed.

5. The estimates in the Annual Population Survey and the undercount in the migration statistics were confirmed by the 2011 census which found that net migration of European Migrants over the previous decade was at least 400,000 higher than previously estimated[4].  We have pressed the Office of National Statistics to revise their official net migration statistics is light of the census results[5].

Future Migration from the EU

6. The debate also touched on the scale of expected future migration from the European Union. Mr Farage said:

“There was a report out this morning from Migration Watch which said that even at current numbers we’ve got to build a new city the size of Manchester to cope with immigration over the next four to five years.”

6. In response Nick Clegg said that such a suggestion was “dangerous scaremongering” and stated that:

“The population of Manchester….the population of Greater Manchester is 2.7 million. It is a nonsense, this idea that 2.7 million people are going to come from the EU”.

7. Our paper, The Outlook for EU Migration, predicted that net migration from the European Union will be in the order of 130,000 a year for the next five years (a total of 520K after 4 years and 650K after five years). The population of the city of Manchester is 510,000 and the city of Manchester is what Nigel Farage had referred to.

8. The population of the county of Greater Manchester, which includes Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan is 2,700,000[6]. It seems that Mr Clegg deliberately chose to conflate the population of the city of Manchester with the larger urban area of which the city is a part in order to accuse Mr Farage of “scaremongering”.



11th April 2014

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