The Progressive choir among the chattering classes in Europe and the United States has been chortling triumphantly about the failure of a massive flood of migrants from Romania and Bulgaria to materialize at airports in the United Kingdom on January 1. The BBC, The Guardian, The Mirror, The Economist, the New York Times, and the other usual members of the establishment media cartel were filled with stories, editorials, and commentaries claiming that the absence of an immense invasion of migrants on the first day of 2014 proved that widely expressed fears of huge waves of aliens were hysterical fantasies inspired by xenophobia and racism.
However, the critics of the expanded European Union immigration policies have not claimed that the January 1 date itself would necessarily produce immediate huge numbers of new immigrants pouring into the country; rather they have pointed out that large numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians have already entered and that many more of the nearly 30 million inhabitants of these two EU members — among Europe’s poorest — are certain to follow, unless action is taken to restrict entry.
When Bulgaria and Romania were admitted to the European Union in 2007, their citizens gained the right to visa-free travel throughout the EU. However, the U.K. was one of nine EU member countries that placed a seven-year restriction barring citizens from the two countries from coming to work or applying for benefits. They have been allowed to work in the U.K. only if they are self-employed or are filling a position for which no British worker is available. At least, that’s how it was supposed to work. But a considerable multitude of Romanians and Bulgarians found ways around those restrictions. Although concerns about the social and economic impacts of the migrants have sparked heated debate in the other eight countries as well (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, and Spain), the fiercest political battling has been in Britain, which has experienced the heaviest influxes from Bulgaria and Romania, as well as from other poor EU countries, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, thanks to the U.K.’s generous welfare payments, housing assistance, income support, healthcare, and other state benefits.
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