‘Enlargement beneficial to UK economy’

A UK parliament report argues that the country’s economy has benefited from the UK open-door policy towards EU-10 migrant workers in 2004 and calls on EU politicians to engage the public on benefits of EU expansion.

The European Union Committee of the House of Lords (UK) has conducted an inquiry to find out whether further enlargement of the EU should be seen as a threat or an opportunity. 

The Committee’s final report, published on 23 November 2006, states that the EU enlargement is good for old and new members. According to the report, immigration of high skilled, low cost workforce from EU-10 has helped British companies to better compete, for example, with the emerging economies of Asia. It also states that faced with restrictions in some of the EU-15 in 2004, the EU-10 workers had simply joined the black economy.

As to the institutional functioning of the EU with 25 members, the Committee recognises that improvements are necessary and argue the case for a new intergovernmental conference. In addition, it points out that “expert opinion is far more positive towards further EU expansion than the public opinion,” and calls on western European politicians “to do more to engage the public on the benefits of EU expansion and to challenge the negative media portrayal of an enlarged EU.”

The report also calls on the EU-25 to have a more consistent and coherent line as regards the accession of Turkey and urges them “to keep the door open to the Western Balkans” to encourage them to “move away from corruption and sectarian violence”.

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