Page last updated at 19:51 GMT, Thursday, 5 June 2003 20:51 UK

UK immigration could rise by 10%

Asylum seekers
The end of the war has brought a change of policy

Immigration to the UK could increase by more than 10% as a result of EU enlargement, according to research commissioned by the Home Office.

A report indicated that up to 13,000 extra economic migrants could come to Britain each year as a direct result of 10 new countries joining the organisation.

The Conservatives have expressed fears that expanding the EU would result in large numbers of people from the former Communist countries looking for a more prosperous future in countries like the UK.

But Home Office Minister Beverley Hughes told MPs: "The number coming here for employment will be minimal."

Relatively small?

EU enlargement is due to come into effect on 1 May 2004 and the so-called AC-10 countries due to join are Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

According to the report: "The net immigration from the AC-10 to the UK after the current enlargement of the EU will be relatively small, at between 5,000 and 13,000 immigrants per year up to 2010."

The results of the research could be inaccurate due to a lack of "good data" on which to base estimates.

Dr Christian Dustmann of University College London, who led the research team, said: "We have done the best job we can do given the data evidence but it's a very problematic thing."

He also stressed that previous fears of mass migration ahead of previous EU enlargements "had not materialised".

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