Britain could reintroduce UK visa requirements for some nations to gain more control over immigration.
26 October 2012
Britain to support UK visa reintroduction for Balkan nations
The British Government will join several other Western European nations in supporting an EU motion to reintroduce UK visa requirements for certain Eastern European nations. for Chinese tourists.
The coalition Government has made reducing net UK immigration to the 'tens of thousands' by the time of the next general election but has thus far struggled to stem the tide.
While changes to UK visa and immigration policies have made it harder for certain groups such as students and spouses of British residents to move to the UK, due to European Union law, the Government has little control over the immigration of some migrants.
The Freedom of Movement directive within the EU allows citizens of member nations as well as those of prospective EU members to live and work in any other country.
However, the UK along with Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria and the Netherlands feel they have borne the brunt of such freedoms as tens of thousands of Eastern Europeans have migrated across the continent.
"Britain has felt the impact and supports action," said one British official.
Interior ministers from the seven nations will demand the EUO addresses the issue, possibly by re-establishing visa requirements for the nations perceived as problems.
"Our countries have been subject to a worrisome trend," said French Interior Minister Manuel Valls. "A flood of asylum seekers from countries which have recently benefitted from an easing of visa rules."
"Their nationals can move in the Schengen [freedom of movement] zone freely. This rush of asylum demands, often groundless, is threatening our system."
The accession of Eastern European countries, including Poland, in 2004 has been blamed for the surge in immigration to the UK; Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia were granted similar visa-free privileges in 2009 and 2010 as a precursor to full EU membership.
Hans-Peter Friedrich, the German interior minister, said the EU was prepared to offer the countries aid but the rates of migration could not continue and the reintroduction of visas could be one way to tackle that.
"That's our message to Serbia and Macedonia," said Mr Friedrich. "We are asking these two countries to resolve the problem.
"The huge inflow of Serbian and Macedonian citizens must be stopped immediately."
The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.