The number of European Union immigrants arriving in the UK is set to outstrip those coming from outside the Eurozone for the first time, according to a new report.
A study by Migration Watch has found that net migration from Europe will top 130,000 this year and is set to continue for the foreseeable future at the same levels.
The recent expansion of the European Union has contributed to this increase with some 50,000 Romanians and Bulgarians and more than 40,000 nationals from Poland and other Eastern European nations arriving in the UK.
Migration Watch also said that the continuing economic troubles in southern Spain has driven a sharp increase in the number of migrants arriving from countries such as Spain, Italy and Greece.
Net migration from outside the EU has continued to fall, the report said, as stricter new policies introduced by the government for visa applicants from Africa, South Asia and the Far East take effect.
The report adds that a vast majority of immigrants from the new EU member states came to the UK in search of work.
However, a majority of those were unskilled workers earning the minimum wage and whose incomes were supplemented by the government through tax credits and housing benefit.
Some migrant workers, the report said, would have up to a third of their incomes coming from a variety of benefits.
MigrationWatch said ministers should consider denying migrants access to in-work benefits and tax credits for the first five years they are here.
Under the current regime, a single worker on the minimum wage in the UK would be able to earn four-and-a-half times the income they could earn in Romania – or nine times as much for a family.
Last night, Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch, said: ‘The good news is that immigration from outside the EU is coming down steadily as the Government has promised. The bad news is that migrants from the EU have driven the policy off course.
‘It was crazy to have opened up our labour market and our benefit system to 100million people from countries with a standard of living less than a quarter of our own.
‘There must now be a determined renegotiation.’