Last year's hysteria over a potential flood of Bulgarian and Romanian workers sweeping into the UK have not been realised, according to Home Office statistics published today. New Bulgarian and Romanian Accession Statistics found that in the first three months after the two counties joined the Eurepean Union, there were only 9,305 applications for registration certificates. A press notice by migration minister Liam Byrne states:
...between January and March 2007, 7,935 applications were approved. Of these:
- 5,075 allowed to access the full labour market
- 2,6690 registered as self-employed
- 200 registered as self-sufficient
- 2,425 joined the seasonal agricultural working scheme
...Mr Byrne said that, while it's early to assess the full impact of the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU, early indications are that the policy of restricting access to the labour market is helping to ensure that only those with something to offer the country are being allowed to work here. 'It is clear that workers from the accession states are filling skills and labour gaps, but the restrictions we introduced were right,' he said.
Of course, had there not been restrictions imposed, more Bulgarian and Romanian workers would have arrived. But even so, it is hard to imagine we'd have seen hundreds of thousands, as some of the more rabid British tabloids had speculated last year.
* Bulgaria and Romania to join EU in 2007, 26 September 2006
* Above all, Bulgaria needs time! 22 August 2006
* Immigration: more confusion, 11 August 2006
* UK migration: The Bulgarians are coming, 1 May 2006
* Who’s afraid of EU enlargement? It's time to welcome the 'Polish plumber', 7 September 2005