E.g., 04/13/2024
E.g., 04/13/2024
The UK's New Europeans: Progress and Challenges Five Years After Accession

The enlargement of the European Union has fundamentally changed migration patterns to the United Kingdom. Since May 2004 an estimated 1.5 million workers have moved to the UK from new EU member states. That year, 10 new states joined the EU, eight of which were eastern European countries with income levels well below the western European average. Two additional countries, Romania and Bulgaria, joined the Union in 2007. Not only have eastern Europeans made up about half of labour immigration in recent years; they also differ substantially from the UK’s previous immigrant groups. Many come without knowing how long they will stay, while some move between the UK and their home country on a regular basis.

A large proportion have found work in unskilled occupations, often in areas that have not typically attracted substantial immigration. Though employment rates for these new European citizens are high, areas of concern remain because their wages are low and the workers, often despite significant education, are concentrated in unskilled labor sectors. While the overall experience of eastern European immigration has been a positive one, this report identifies a number of current problems and future risks. During the coming years, migration patterns are likely to change and fluctuate due to shifting economic conditions throughout Europe. Different kinds of workers may migrate, and the balance among sending countries may shift.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. What is special about the recent migration?

A. Examining the numbers

B. A different kind of migration

C. Migration from Romania and Bulgaria

III. Equality implications: how are eastern European migrants faring?

A. Economic integration

B. Short-term vulnerabilities: precarious circumstances?

C. Exploitation (or ‘flexibility’?)

D. Long-term prospects for upward mobility and integration

IV. Integration