GERMANY - not the UK - is the main destination of free movement within the European Union, an international economic organisation has said.
Nearly 30% of migrants moving under free movement rules within the EU in 2012 travelled to Germany, compared to 7% of EU free-mobility migrants that moved to the UK, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said.
In its International Migration Outlook 2014, the OECD said recent national estimates suggest an increase in free movement migration to the UK this year - but Germany continues to be the main destination of free movement within the 28-country bloc.
The findings come after Prime Minister David Cameron signalled he is ready to lead Britain out of the EU if other member states refuse to compromise on the principle of free movement, which he and other ministers say is behind a surge in immigration to the UK.
Last week, official figures showed net migration rising to 260,000 in the year to June - 16,000 higher than when the coalition Government came to office.
The OECD said the number of foreign nationals living in the UK rose to 4.9 million in 2013 - or 7.9% of the total UK population.
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Citizens of the ten Eastern European countries that joined the EU from 2004 onwards make up 25.8% of all foreigners residing in the United Kingdom and over half are from Poland.
However, despite an increase of close to 2% since 2012, the OECD said the number of permanent immigrants entering the UK remains 15% below levels of 2007.
Migrants moving to take up work have fallen by 1% in the UK but a reduction in the number of family and humanitarian migrants means labour migrants are taking an increasing share of total migration in the UK, the 34-member organisation said.
University students enrolled outside their country of citizenship have more than doubled since 2000 to reach 4.5 million in 2012 with 12% of these students enrolled in the UK.
The OECD said 46% of the foreign born population in the UK is considered to be highly-educated, a “stark” difference compared to 33% of the native population.
Furthermore, in Britain, native-born youth are more likely to be outside employment, education and training, than foreign-born youth.
Stefano Scarpetta, OECD director for employment, labour and social affairs, said: “Today’s migrants are better educated than their predecessors.
“The number of foreign-born who are highly-educated has grown by 70% over the past decade to exceed 31 million in the OECD area. Over that period, highly educated immigrants accounted for 45% of the increase in the foreign born population.”
Mr Cameron last week set out plans to bar EU migrants from claiming welfare for the first four years after arriving in the UK and deport those who do not find jobs within six months.
But he warned that he will “rule nothing out” if other European states turn a deaf ear to British concerns.
Under his plans, EU job-seekers without an offer of employment will not be allowed to claim the new Universal Credit when they arrive in the UK and will be required to leave if they do not find work within six months.
Migrants will be able to claim tax credits and child benefit and to apply for social housing only after four years in the country, and will receive no child benefit or child tax credit for offspring living abroad.
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