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EU - Migration fears unfounded

A recent study carried out by Eurobarometer found that perceived fears of a huge wave of migration from the new EU Member States after enlargement seem to be unfounded. Even if current EU Member States did not restrict their labour markets after 1 May 2004, when ten new countries will join the EU, migration from these new Member States to all current Member States would only be about 1 per cent of the working age population.

It has been found that most of these migrants would be young, well-educated and single without any dependants, and would therefore be able to make an active contribution to the development of the EU economy. There may be a serious risk of "brain drain" from the accession countries, with 2-3 percent of young people between the age of 15 and 24 indicating a firm intention to move to Western Europe.

Ten countries will be joining the EU as full members on 1 May 2004. Nationals of these new EU member states should be able to eventually enjoy free access to the labour markets of the current EU members, most of which have placed at least initial restrictions on entry for the purpose of work. Only the UK and Ireland are allowing nationals from the accession countries to come and work freely from 1 May, although access to some public welfare benefits may be limited.

These restrictions will not apply to citizens of Cyprus and Malta.