Free movement in the EU : the case of Great Britain
On 1 May 2004, the European Union was enlarged to include eight post-communist countries (known as A8s); the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia. In January 2006 Romania and Bulgaria (known as A2s) were admitted to European Union membership. In 2004 the United Kingdom, Ireland and Sweden were the only countries to fully open their labour markets to workers from New Member States (NMS). Other countries adopted transitional arrangements. The scale of migration from A8 countries to the UK, and Poland in particular, was much greater than expected. In relation to the UK the purpose of this report is firstly to examine the public debate regarding this migration. The following sections examine the impact on labour markets, implications for welfare and overall economic and societal effects. We discuss the response of trade unions and migration from the perspective of the sender countries. The impact of the crisis and recession is examined. Finally we identify and draw key conclusions.