3 Apr 2013
On 20 March 2013, the APPG on Migration’s roundtable on potential migration from Bulgaria and Romania brought together key cross-party parliamentarians as well as local government representatives and key experts.
Transitional accession restrictions affecting Romanian and Bulgarian (‘A2’) nationals will end on 31 December 2013, granting A2 nationals the same rights to work in the UK as other European Union nationals. The UK government will also close two work schemes aimed at A2 nationals within the agricultural and food processing sectors.
The meeting reviewed the latest analysis of potential migration patterns from Romania and Bulgaria to the UK from 2014, debating the anticipated impacts of these changes. It explored the lessons that can be learned from previous patterns of EU migration to the UK, and used the opportunity to discuss how local and national government, as well as wider communities, can plan ahead for 2014 in order to support positive outcomes for all concerned.
Lord Roger Roberts, who chaired the meeting, said “we know A2 migrants are coming into full membership, unrestricted to the European Union, so we need to analyse the potential patterns of migration from these countries. The main issue on the doorstep at elections is Europe and immigration and we all have our opinions about them but we need to start building a cross-party consensus on how we should deal with any potential impacts and all decisions should always be based on good empirical evidence.”
In September 2012, Jack Dromey MP, the chair of the APPG, was on Newsnight discussing the issues around the exploitation of Romanian workers already in the UK; he argued that the last government had begun to equip itself with the capacity to fight against labour exploitation, when it set up the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) in 2006. The GLA had the potential to bring proper regulation to the industry which provides casual labour to employers but recent reforms of the system has weakened its remit.
So far, MPs in the House of Commons have spoken in two debates on the potential migration from A2 nations. A Westminster Hall Debate in December 2012 explored the potential impacts on public services and employment. Another debate took place in March 2013 after an urgent question from MPs on the need to restrict welfare to A2 migrants who arrive in the UK after 2014. Backbench MPs have also secured a further debate on 22 April 2013 on potential migration from Romania and Bulgaria after an e-petition gained enough support to debate the issue.