Prime Minister David Cameron has stated that it is impossible to predict what the UK immigration levels will be when access restrictions on Bulgaria and Romania are lifted at the end of the year.
However, he did state that there is a “big difference” between the current situation and what happened when Poland joined the EU. Some Tories had used figures from Polish immigrants to suggest that upto 300,000 people could move to the UK after the removal of restrictions at the end of 2013. However, the prime minister was quick to dismiss this, insisting that it was not a reasonable assumption.
The number of people moving to the UK from Poland was much higher than official projections at the time, but Mr Cameron assured listeners on BBC Radio 4's Today programme that this would not be the case with Bulgaria and Romania.
“I completely support what Eric Pickles has said, which is 'Don't make official predictions unless and until you've got real confidence in those figures',” said Mr Cameron.
The prime minister was referring to comments made over the weekend by communities secretary Mr Pickles stating that nobody knew what the figures would be when the migration restrictions around Bulgaria and Romania are dropped. Mr Pickles had added that there was a risk that any influx in immigrants from the EU could “cause problems”, particularly around the capital where there are already significant populations from these countries, but noted that this could be managed.
Mr Cameron concurred and referring to the actions of the last Labour administration, he added: “We don't want to make that same mistake again so it's important to take the time and get this right.”
The Coalition has confirmed that it will not seek to extend temporary curbs on the migration rights of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals. Citizens of the two countries will be given the right to live and work in Britain this December when the restrictions on migration following the countries ascension to the EU are lifted.