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UK to limit migration from Bulgaria, Romania

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Britain will limit the number of people who can migrate from Bulgaria and Romania when the two nations join the European Union to prevent immigrants from overwhelming public services, a Cabinet minister said. Trade Secretary Alistair Darling said the government would not allow immigration from the two nations without restrictions as it did when 10 nations joined the EU in 2004. The EU will decide by October when Bulgaria and Romania can join. „Immigration has to be carefully managed,” Darling said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. television in London on Sunday. „You've got to have a system that is properly managed and balanced. We have got to consider what skills we need.” At least 600,000 migrants entered the UK when Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined the EU two years ago. The government had forecast 20,000 would come. The inflow helped boost the size of the UK's workforce to a record 28.9 million and drove up unemployment to its highest in four years. Lawmakers in the opposition Conservative Party and voters surveyed by polling companies have said the government should impose tighter limits on immigration to hold down the costs of state-funded schools, hospitals and railroads. „The government should learn and use those controls,” Damian Green, a Conservative lawmaker in charge of the party's immigration policy, told the BBC on Sunday. „We want restrictions.”


Three-quarters of voters surveyed want tougher immigration controls while 23% want the rules relaxed or maintained, according to a survey of 975 adults by Ipsos Mori Ltd. published by the Sunday Times on Sunday. The survey conducted between Aug. 11 and Aug. 13 had a 3 percentage point margin of error. The number of people in the UK claiming unemployment benefits rose 2,000 in June to 957,000, the most since January 2002, the National Statistics office said on Aug. 16. Unemployment measured by International Labor Organization standards touched 1.68 million, putting the jobless rate at 5.5%, the most since May 2000. Darling, who heads the Department of Trade and Industry, has no direct control over immigration, though he sits in the Cabinet and is a political ally both of Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Home Secretary John Reid, whose department controls immigration, prisons and crime, has been pushing for limits on migration while Europe Minister Geoff Hoon has said the UK must stick to its commitments to allow in migrants from former communist countries. EU leaders meeting in Brussels in June urged Bulgaria and Romania to clamp down on corruption and to upgrade their justice systems to avoid a delay in their membership bids. The countries, with a combined population of 30 million, have incomes that are a third of the EU average. (Bloomberg)

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