UK Plans Cap On EU Immigrants - Leaked Report
The number of people allowed to move to the UK from European Union countries could be capped at 75,000 under proposals set out by the Home Office, it has been claimed.
A leaked Government report on the effect on Britain of the EU's policy allowing free movement of people suggests a cap could cut net migration from EU countries by 30,000 from the current 106,000 a year.
The document, seen by The Sunday Times, also suggests blocking EU immigrants from claiming benefits or tax credits for their first five years in the UK.
The proposals would mean professionals and highly-skilled migrants from countries such as Germany, Holland or Austria could only move to the UK if they had a job offer.
Lower-skilled workers would be allowed to settle if they had jobs on an approved list of occupations for which there was a national shortage.
The leaked open borders review was overseen by Home Secretary Theresa May as part of the Government's assessment of the balance of powers between the UK and Brussels.
Other proposals in the paper include giving British citizens a "national preference" by explicitly reserving jobs for them and limiting labour movement from poorer countries joining the EU to the UK until their GDP is 75% of Britain's.
Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday said tougher controls on freedom of movement within the EU will be needed in the future and suggested a GDP-based restriction.
He said: "When other countries join the European Union we should be insisting on longer transitions and perhaps even saying until you reach a proper share of an average European Union GDP you can't have freedom of movement.
"The reason for that is if you look at migration between Britain and Germany or France and Germany, countries of pretty even GDP, the movements are pretty much balanced.
"Its only when you have a real imbalance when you have a poor country and a much wealthier country that you get these vast movements."
But any attempt to challenge free movement rules is likely to face resistance in Europe.
European Commissioner Laszlo Andor recently hit out at British politicians' comments about the lifting of restrictions on Bulgaria and Romania at the end of this month, saying on Twitter: "Responsible politicians should avoid legitimising xenophobic reactions that indeed weaken the European spirit."
He also served notice that the UK could be taken to court over existing proposals to tighten the rules on migrants claiming benefits.
Asked about the report, a Home Office spokesman said: "We do not comment on leaked documents."
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