01 August 2011

MPs call for UK immigration analysis in preparation for Turkey joining EU

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Calls have been made from MPs in the United Kingdom to prevent a high influx of immigrants to the UK from Turkey, should Turkey join the European Union. The report calls for further analysis of UK immigration.

In a report published today, members of the Home Affairs Select Committee have expressed a number of concerns about the implications raised by Turkey’s membership to the EU and call on the Home Office to assess the number of migrants likely to arrive in Britain, taking advantage of free movement for citizens in EU member countries with no UK visa required. The committee also has concerns regarding security of Turkey’s borders.

"Current migration of Turkish nationals to the EU has declined to below 50,000 a year but population trends and the gap in living standards could make easier migration within the EU an attractive option for Turkish citizens," says the report. The report goes on to say "Given the UK's experience after the 2004 enlargement, when many thousands more migrants arrived than expected, the committee is cautious about allowing Turkish citizens full freedom of movement and supports the government's commitment to applying 'effective transitional controls as a matter of course' for all new member states,"


The report cites the previous experience of the so-called A8 countries (The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) where the numbers of migrants to the UK were underestimated by the then-UK government. No transitional arrangements for citizens of these East European countries were in place in the UK as they were for most countries in the EU and despite UK restrictions on access to social security and a requirement to register with the Workers Registration Scheme, significantly higher numbers of A8 nationals migrated to the UK than were expected.


Giving evidence to the committee’s inquiry, Home Office immigration minister Damian Green testified that it was impossible to make a realistic assessment on the impact of Turkish accession to the EU on likely migration patterns. He said “we don’t know any of the basic facts”, which included whether a transitional period will be put in place. Green stated that Turkey traditionally had stronger links with Germany than with Britain, however the assumption that A8 nationals would be more likely to migrate to Germany based on traditional migration patterns was made by the Home Office in a report published in 2003 and later proved to be incorrect. Green added that the Turkish economy was growing at a faster rate than India, meaning many Turks may stay home.


Discussions in Brussels assume that Turkey may join the EU in 2020 although there is some opposition among several member states and no final decision has yet been reached.

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