Open Europe Blog

Where do migrants to the UK come from the EU or non EU?

David Cameron’s hopes of getting back on the front foot on migration have been dealt a blow this morning – ONS figures show that immigration is up, and specifically immigration from the EU is up as well.

These figures are important for two reasons, firstly the timing – these figures come ahead of a much anticipated speech David Cameron is about to deliver on the whole subject. Secondly, the numbers when compared to two targets, firstly the Conservatives’ 2010 manifesto migration target of “tens of thousands a year not hundreds of thousands.” Secondly, the comparison to migration flows under Labour. Here are some of the headline figures:

  • Total net long-term migration estimated to be 260,000 in the year ending June 2014 up from 182,000 in the previous 12 months.
  • Total gross immigration of 583,000 in the year ending June 2014, a statistically significant increase from 502,000 in the previous 12 months.
  • EU immigration up 45,000 and non-EU up 30,000.
  • 32,000 Romanians and Bulgarians came to the UK up 11,000 and EU15 migration also up 10,000.
  • Estimated employment of EU nationals resident in the UK was 16% higher in July to September 2014 compared to the same quarter in 2013.

Interestingly, while immigration is also up from the new EU member states, the longer term trend driving EU migration is that from the EU15.

So how will all this play out? Well as you can see from the ONS graph below EU migration is not the largest component in total UK migration. That non-EU migration also went up for the first time in a while is politically significant.

However, EU migration is a large portion. The fact it is not showing any sign of decreasing will fuel trust issues over both the EU and migration.

Politically, perhaps the most significant aspect here is that net migration to the UK is now higher than when Labour left office (but lower than the peak during the Labour government). Ukip and some media are already jumping on this. Ahead of the speech, there’s one key question:

Has the Tory leadership already ‘priced in’ today’s figures, or has this made a cap of some sort more likely? 
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