We were struck by the shrill headlines in some publications seemingly lamenting the fact that the number of EU migrants working in the UK now tops 2 million. Some perspective is needed on this. What tends to be forgotten is that there are approximately 2.2 million UK citizens living and working in the rest of the EU with, for example, just over 1 million British people living in Spain and 329,000 in Ireland. Of those, from the rest of the EU living here, a mere 1.2 per cent are not economically active, a miniscule number.
According to University College London, between 2001 and 2011, EU migrants made an estimated positive net contribution of £20 billion to the UK economy as they tend to be younger and more economically active than our own workforce, paying more in taxes and receiving less in benefits.
Indeed, unemployed Britons in the EU are drawing much more in benefits and allowances in wealthier EU countries than their nationals are claiming in the UK.
For example, four times as many Britons obtain unemployment benefits in Germany as Germans do in the UK, while the number of jobless Britons receiving benefits in Ireland exceeds their Irish counterparts in the UK by a rate of five to one.
Contrary to popular perceptions, the figures for nationals of those ten east European countries drawing jobseeker’s allowance in the UK remain modest, despite the periodical outcries about “benefits tourism”.
There are only about 1,000 Romanians and 500 Bulgarians, for example, drawing jobseeker’s allowance in Britain, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.
Those from the EU who have made the UK their home make an overwhelmingly positive contribution economically, socially and culturally and it is good to sometimes highlight the facts and dispel the myths behind this.
European Movement in Scotland