Page last updated at 22:43 GMT, Sunday, 14 October 2007 23:43 UK

Migrant rights in UK criticised

Migrant workers picking celery in a field
The study says migrants face a mixed outlook in the UK

A study of how well European countries integrate immigrants places the UK ninth out of 25 EU nations.

The continental-wide review praised the UK's nationality and residency laws, but said migrants did not have enough workplace or political rights.

The study looked at policies across the continent and ranked countries on key factors affecting immigrants' lives.

The British Council-led study found Sweden doing the most to help migrants settle - and Latvia the least.

The project compiled a league table by looking at laws and policies towards immigrants once a nation has allowed them to enter a country.

Overall, EU nations were found to be doing only half as much as they could, based on an ideal scenario drawn from all the best laws across the continent.

Researchers found that the five countries accounting for half of Europe's 21m migrants, including the UK, all scored mid-table.

5th: Long-term residence
5th: Nationality laws
5th: Discrimination laws
12th: Family reunion
12th: Labour market access
15th: Political rights
Note: League table of 25 EU nations; Source: Migration Integration Policy index

The UK came out fifth best for how it allows settled migrants to put down long-term roots - but then fell short on quality of life issues, such as bringing in family members.

Overall, researchers said that migrants living in the UK could face long delays to getting a permanent right to stay. But they added that once that wait was over, migrants did not face language tests or integration courses.

People seeking to take the final step and become a British citizen must pass a language course and take a test on British life.

The UK's internationally-recognised policies to combat discrimination scored highly - but were also said to be weak because of poor enforcement.

The UK lost marks because of a specific law to strip nationality from immigrants - a measure used only once so far in relation to jailed radical cleric Abu Hamza.

The study found that settled migrants experienced mixed levels of political rights in the UK.

While they had recognisable political liberties, they had fewer rights to vote in national or local elections compared with other nations, despite being tax payers.

The UK was also criticised for not consulting specialist migrant bodies, unlike some other European nations.

Sweden top

Overall, the UK came ninth in the league table with Sweden and Portugal came top.

Source: Migration Integration Policy index

Poland, the source of the largest number of recent immigrants to the UK, came 20th out of 25.

Of all the states looked at, nine had policies classed as partially favourable, five were middling and 10 nations scored lower still.

The EU-backed research project involved 25 bodies, led by the British Council.

Martin Davidson, head of the council, said that the league table's results aimed to foster debate over the nature of migration and integration across the continent and beyond.

"Migration is one of the key issues facing Europe along with complex questions of identity, religious expression in largely secular societies and fears arising from terrorism and war," said Mr Davidson.

"It's our hope that this transparent and accessible account of Europe's integration policies will trigger wider discussion, greater understanding and effective action."

A map showing a league table of migrants' rights across Europe

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Migrants seeking new work

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