February 18, 2009

There are three or four times the number of EU workers in the UK as there are UK workers in the EU says a new report from think tank Migrationwatch out today.

The number of UK nationals working in other EU countries is approximately 286,000 as against some 1,172,000 workers born in the EU currently working in the UK. The number of EU nationals working here is just over one million (a smaller number as some EU nationals have now acquired British nationality).

The main destinations for British workers are Germany 65,000, Ireland 52,000, Spain 42,000, France 36,000, and Netherlands 28,000.

Reasons for the imbalance may include limited language skills, relatively low unemployment rates in Britain in recent years and the fact that wages here are generally higher than in most EU countries.

“The government have been emphasising that the number of British workers operating under the “Posted Workers Directive” is three times the number of European workers in Britain under the same regulation. However, if all workers are considered the result is reversed,” said Sir Andrew Green, Migrationwatch chairman. ‘Our paper sets the record straight.’

“There is no clear sign yet in these statistics that workers from Eastern Europe are starting to go home in significant numbers,” he added.

"Getting these numbers right is important because it informs debate on a very sensitive issue. Our long held view is that economic migrants from the EU are not likely to become a long term immigration problem as their numbers are expected to come into balance in a few years time. The really big issue remains the very large numbers coming to the UK from outside the EU, again confirmed by the latest figures, at a time when the pressure on jobs here is as intense as it has been for many years."

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