UK immigration 'highest in EU'

07 Feb 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

UK immigration is the highest in the European Union, according to the latest figures from Eurostat.

The data, which related to 2010, showed that 591,000 people came to the UK over the course of the year, either on UK work permits or through moving within the EU.

Spain had the second highest immigration rate with 465,200, followed by Italy with 458,900 and Germany with 404,100.

While the information includes immigrants from both within the EU and overseas citizen, that statistics show that some 810,000 immigrants from outside of the EEA were granted EU citizenship during 2010, of whom 194,800 were granted it in Britain. This meant that not only did the country have the highest overall number of immigrants but it also granted citizenship to more foreign nationals than any other EU country in 2010, with a substantial gap between it and the next closest country, France, which granted EU citizenship to 143,300 people non-EEA nationals.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of anti-immigration group Migrationwatch UK, has suggested that the figures demonstrate the then Labour government's lack of control. However, the statistics also showed that the UK saw the highest level of emigration in 2010, with some 340,000 people leaving the country, suggesting that the figures are starting to find a certain level of equilibrium.

The current coalition government is of the opinion that immigration needs to be cut, however, and has introduced a range of measures to this end since coming into power. An annual cap of 20,700 on Tier 2 UK work permits is among the most high profile of these and it has come under frequent criticism for allegedly hampering the country's economic competitiveness.

Student visas and spouse visas have also been hit by changes to the regulations, which reduced employment opportunities for migrants in higher education and increased the salary threshold for sponsoring a partner or spouse.