- 14 updates
A furious row has broken out at the heart of the coalition Government over the right of European Union nationals to work in the UK, with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg branding proposals floated in a leaked Home Office document "illegal and undeliverable".
As 2014 dawns, restrictions on the number of people from Romania and Bulgaria allowed to work in the UK will be lifted.
- Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union in 2007
- Restrictions on the number of people from these countries allowed to work in the UK will be lifted on January 1 after seven years
- Almost 100,000 have already taken the chance to work in the UK (ONS)
- When Poland joined the EU in 2004 there were no restrictions in place and more than 400,000 made the move (Home Office, Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue & Customs and Communities and Local Government, Accession Monitoring Report)
- UK is 11th on list of where Romanians tend to move (IOM 2011)
- Combined population of Bulgaria and Romania is 29 million compared to 39 million in Poland
- 6.5 million Romanians aged between 20 and 39 and 0.35 million Bulgarians - the group which tends to make the shift but 46% of have already gone
Reform of the right to free movement should form part of any negotiations on new arrangements for the UK's membership of the European Union, Home Secretary Theresa May has said.
Mrs May said she has already raised the issue with counterparts in other EU states who are also concerned about issues such as "benefit tourism" and movements of workers between countries with wide disparities in incomes.
Reports of a leaked Home Office paper suggest that Mrs May wants to introduce a cap on migration from the EU, possibly at 75,000 a year - around 30,000 lower than the current level.
The changes would mean that professionals and highly-skilled migrants from wealthy countries could move to the UK only if they had a job offer and lower-skilled workers would be allowed to settle only if they were employed in posts where there was an identified shortage.
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