Will Germany help to reduce UK Net Migration?

During the General Election David Cameron pledged to tackle net migration and bring it down from ‘hundreds of thousands per year to tens of thousands per year’. So far his Coalition Government has brought in an Immigration Cap, cancelled Tier 1 General and has tightened Tier 4 of the Points Based System (Student Visas) significantly. However, the opening of the German & Austrian labour markets could (1) reduce migration from the so called ‘A8’ countries to the UK as many will prefer trying their luck in Germany or Austria, and (2) could encourage some to leave the UK in favour of new opportunities closer to home.

In Germany the opening of the labour market has been greeted with concern, and many have been calling for the introduction of a minimum wage so that German nationals are not undercut. A recent study for Germany’s Friedrich Ebert Foundation showed that workers from Poland and other 2004 accession states who arrived in Ireland earned 18% less than comparable Irish workers.

The Head of the Left Party, Gregor Gysi, made his concerns felt by saying that “If an employer says he’ll take the Polish employee because he is more diligent, more qualified and more reliable, then that is fine. But if he says he’ll take him because he’s cheaper, then I have a problem”. The German Finance Minister, Wolfganf Schauble, followed up by saying that “The free movement of labour is a great chance for Germany and for Europe, but we’re not approaching it naively. Employers and employees can be sure that obeying the rules will be insisted upon.”

Back in the UK there is still concern that even with the recent changes to the Point Based System and the opening of the German & Austrian labour markets net migration figures will still not drop. Recently the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said that it is unlikely that UK Immigration figures will show a significant drop in 2010. The think tank predicted that Immigration figures for 2011 will probably not fall below 200,000+; the level at which Immigration has been at for the past decade.

The IPPR Director, Nick Pearce, followed up by saying that “A sharp drop in immigration is unlikely to happen in 2011 on current trends, so ministers must be careful to manage down public expectations. The cap on skilled migration from outside the EU, which the government has already been put in place, could hurt the economic recovery. Other hasty measures to reduce numbers artificially would be even more damaging. Bringing down the level of immigration, which has been high in recent years, is a legitimate policy goal. But this should be done by making long term and sustainable reforms to the structure of our economy and labour market.”

UK Worker Registration Scheme Closure

Yesterday the UK Worker Registration Scheme (WRS) also officially closed, meaning that nationals of the ‘A8’ countries can now access the UK labour market on the same terms as other European Union nationals (except Bulgarians and Romanians). A8 nationals (individuals from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia & Slovenia) will also enjoy the same entitlements to out of work benefits as other EU nationals.

The Worker Registration Scheme was introduced in 2004 following the accession of the ‘A8’ countries to the European Union and allowed the Government to monitor where nationals were coming into the UK labour market, the type of work they were doing and the impact they were having on the British economy. The 1st May marks the date on which the UK Government can no longer apply transitional restrictions to A8 national.

It appears that in the future nationals from new European Union member states will not be afforded immediate access to the UK labour market as the Government will enforce the 7 year ban (as Germany did with the A8 countries back in 2004). Mr Green recently told the Daily Mail that “This Government will push for stringent controls to stop workers from new member states from being able to access our labour market – we will not repeat the mistakes of the past. ‘It is in no one’s interest to see another unplanned influx from abroad. We need to protect the interests of British workers.’

According to the Home Office the Worker Registration Scheme has seen a total of 1,153,765 applicants since it was opened in 2004. This figure does not represent simply the number of individuals who came to the UK and stayed indefinitely. The majority either came to the UK for a limited period of time and then returned home or came to and from the UK on multiple occasions.

  • Poland – 722,385 applicants
  • Lithuania – 124,275 applicants
  • Slovakia – 112,775 applicants
  • Latvia – 78,705 applicants
  • Hungary – 54,445 applicants
  • Czech Republic – 49,725 applicants
  • Estonia – 10,275 applicants
  • Slovenia – 1,180 applicants

Commonwealth Contractors

Commonwealth Contractors is a collection of highly skilled professionals from the Commonwealth and beyond. We partner with OISC Registered Immigration Partners capable of professionally representing a Tier 1 Visa Application / Extension and Tier 2 Licensed Consultancy & Associated Trust Partners who may be prepared, where required, to sponsor a doctor on a Tier 2 Visa (formerly UK Work Permit). Commonwealth Contractors also provides updates on UK Immigration News.

To find out more call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0330 390 9021 or Submit your Details and we will get back to you. Please be prepared to send a copy of a recent CV so that we can pass to interested partners.