By Gerald Heneghan
Romanian and Bulgarian immigration to the UK could amount to 50,000 people a year when restrictions are lifted in 2014.
Think tank Migration Watch as warned that this could be the average influx during the first five years after controls are relaxed.
Chairman of the organisation Sir Andrew Green claimed that the mass migration could have “significant consequences” for public services and housing in the UK.
“It will also add further to the competition which young British workers already face,” he explained.
Migration Watch stated that the government has yet to publish its own predictions on immigration levels – noting that the estimates provided for Poland and other eastern European countries in 2004 had been grossly inaccurate.
The think tank went on to suggest that despite high youth unemployment, Britain would be an attractive country for immigrants due to its “flexible” labour market and accessible benefits system.
Commenting on the figures, Sir Andrew claimed it is insufficient for the government to avoid making its own predictions.
“We have therefore produced our own estimate as a contribution to an important debate which must include the ease with which migrants to the UK can currently access the welfare state,” he said.
As of next year, Bulgarians and Romanians will be granted unrestricted access to live and work in the UK under European Union law.
Alongside Britain, Migration Watch forecast that Germany and the Netherlands would also see an influx of immigrants due to their relatively low levels of youth unemployment.