skip to content

Cookies on the EU website

We use cookies to give the best experience on our site. Continue without changing your settings, and you'll receive cookies, or change your cookie settings at any time.


The financial impact of immigration on Britain - London, 18 October 2013

Part of the "UK 40 years in the EU" series

Britain has always been a champion of enlarging the EU towards the East. Putting words into action, the UK has been among the first countries to fully open its labour market after the 2004 EU enlargement. This increased inflow of EU migrant workers into Britain was matched by an outflow of British citizens, who live in other EU countries. Our event will look at the economic impact and social/political consequences of this migration.

"We shall always look on Warsaw, Prague and Budapest as great European cities."  Margaret Thatcher, Bruges speech

The Economic Case

Some studies show that EU migrants contribute significantly more to the British budget than what they receive and are also less likely to draw benefits or live in social housing than the "native" population. Critics emphasize that even if the direct budgetary effect may be positive, the hidden costs outweigh the benefits: migrants "take jobs from British people" increasing unemployment, undercutting working conditions/wages and they put local public services (schools, housing) under pressure. Is there indeed such a hidden cost or is this criticism a classic case of the "lump of labour" fallacy that mistakenly presents the labour market as a zero-sum game?

09.00 - 10.15 Panel debate on the economic case

Jonathan Portes, Director of National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR)
Scott Corfe, Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR)
Alex Glennie, Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)
Vicky Pryce, economist


The Political Case

"French emigration to Britain is welcome and proof that Britain is booming; Bulgarian emigration to Britain is proof Britain is a “soft-touch” country desperately needing to close its borders."  Alex Massie, The Spectator

Independent of the economic facts, many British people think migration is harming the economy and is creating avoidable hardship for British people. What are the real social/political costs of EU migration? Is there a "scare-mongering" campaign in the UK tabloid press against immigrants, as some critics assert, or is the press reporting only mirroring people's concerns?

10.30 - 11.30 Panel debate on the Political Case  

Roger Helmer, MEP
Mary Dejevsky Columnist at The Independent
Robert Winder Author of "Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain"
Sunder Katwala British Future

The debate was moderated by Simon O'Hagan, assistant editor, The Independent

Date | Friday, 18 October 2013
Time | 8.30am for 09.00 am - 11.00am
Venue| Europe House, 32, Smith square, London, SW1P 3EU