Vicky Ford MEP

Member of the European Parliament for the East of England

26 FEB 2013

Vicky Ford challenges Commissioners over Bulgarian and Romanian immigration

Local Conservative MEP Vicky Ford is questioning the European Commission about how it will address crucial migration issues once restrictions on workers from Romania and Bulgaria are lifted at the end of this year.

The East of England MEP raised a series of important issues in a formal parliamentary question to the Commission today tabled under the "urgency" procedure.

A number of observers and research groups have raised concerns about a potential influx of workers from the two new EU states once the "Schengen" single-border area is expanded to include them next January.

Mrs Ford stressed that the issue had been repeatedly raised by members of the public recently as she toured workplaces and residential areas in the East of England.

After submitting the question, Mrs Ford said: "The agreement to allow free movement to Romanians and Bulgarians was made by Tony Blair and cannot now be changed. In the East of England we have long traditions of welcoming migrants for work, but we have also seen the huge pressures that unplanned migration can put on local services. My constituents are genuinely anxious about what 2014 could bring. How can one be prepared without estimates?

"In the past, estimates from the UK side were hopelessly inaccurate.  Migration involves moving from one country to another so estimates need to look at both countries.

"Has the Commission prepared estimated figures on the UK's economy, employment market and social provisions? Furthermore have Romania and Bulgaria kept their own side of the bargain? Are their own external borders properly policed? Do their regimes respect human rights? What arrangements are being made to combat the potential spread of corruption and organised crime?

"The European Commission has a duty to help answer these questions.

"It will not do to tell voters they should simply trust the EU to do what is best for them. That will not reassure them."

ENDS

Note to editors:

Mrs Ford's Parliamentary Question asks:

"Given the large amounts of net migration which the UK has been presented with over the last 10 years with the enlargement of the Schengen area, could the Commission comment on whether or not it has prepared estimated figures for the impact on the UK's economy, employment market and social provisions?

Can the Commission give evidence that Romania and Bulgaria are fully compliant with all requirements to join the Schengen area, in particular with regard to the fight against corruption and the ability to protect borders with Ukraine, Moldova and Turkey and, in the case of Bulgaria, with regard to the fight against organised crime?

The European Commission has previously stated that residency tests and conditions to future employment and social provisions in Member States will not be prohibited, could the Commission explain the EU legal base for this provision, and elaborate further on what exactly is permitted?

Can the Commission explain why access to the relevant documents concerning Bulgaria and Romania's application to Schengen is being restricted and whether these documents will be made available to the European Parliament in due course?"

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Economic Stability must come first. Without a strong economy we can not deliver a strong society. I work with businesses and consumers to keep Britain open for business, cutting red tape, boosting trade opportunities and helping to deliver jobs and growth for all.

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