Between a quarter and half a million refugees and their dependants could come to the UK from 2020 onwards after acquiring EU citizenship

May 31, 2016

Between 240,000 and 480,000 of the refugees who have already arrived in the EU, together with the dependants who will join them, could move to the UK once they acquire EU citizenship, that is the conclusion of a Migration Watch UK report issued today. This figure includes an estimate of subsequent family members with a right to join those granted protection. It does not include any future arrivals who might be granted asylum in other EU member states.

The report is the first to attempt to analyse the potential impact of the EU migrant crisis on the United Kingdom. Official Eurostat data shows that, in 2015 and the first quarter of 2016, 460,000 migrants have been granted asylum or humanitarian protection in EU countries and that there remain 876,000 applications that are yet to be decided. If the protection grant rate continues as it has, then an additional 508,000 people will be granted asylum, bringing the total number granted refugee status in EU countries to 968,000 for 2015 and the first quarter of 2016 alone.

According to leaked estimates from the German authorities, each person granted asylum is likely to be followed by between four and eight family members. Migration Watch took the lower estimate that only four family members would follow. This suggests that the total inflow to Europe could amount to 4.8 million over a period of years - without taking account of any future arrivals who might successfully claim asylum.

The paper notes the factors which could draw migrants from the EU to the UK. Low skilled entry-level work requiring little local knowledge is often easy to find. The English language, existing migrant communities and a reputation for tolerance and fairness are particular draws. Indeed, research has shown that between a third and half of the Somalis granted asylum in the Netherlands have relocated to the UK, demonstrating that migrants move even from wealthier EU nations where these other factors are at play.

If, in the light of these factors, between 5% and 10% of these 4.8 million refugees and their family members chose to come to the UK after acquiring the EU citizenship to which they will become entitled in due course, between 240,000 and 480,000 could arrive in the UK in the years following 2020. The UK has no control over these numbers.

The paper also notes that the migrant crisis is far from over. Europol and Interpol confirm that there are approximately 800,000 migrants waiting in Libya to cross into the European Union when the weather improves. Moreover, the EU/Turkey deal, whereby all migrants crossing the Aegean from Turkish shores are returned is under pressure. The deal is dependent on the EU granting Turkish nationals visa free travel to the Schengen zone but President Erdogan may not be willing to meet the requirements outlined in the EU’s ‘roadmap’.

Commenting, Lord Green of Deddington, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said:

The UK could well face a significant secondary flow of refugees from Europe in the coming years adding to the already huge strain being placed on housing and public services. While the UK has so far been largely shielded from the crisis in Southern Europe, this potential flow can only add to the impact of migration which is already seriously affecting communities across the country.

To read the full paper, click here

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