Tens of thousands of migrants from India are set to win the right to live and work in Britain because of the EU, leaked papers revealed on Sunday, reports Daily Mail, London. Up to 20,000 information technology workers a year are to be handed British work permits as part of a deal between Brussels and India.
It would mean thousands of extra migrant workers coming here on top of those already arriving under schemes to accept highly skilled workers from abroad.
Documents leaked to the MigrationWatch think-tank from the European Commission suggest a deal is being done to allow India between 35,000 and 50,000 EU work permits each year for skilled IT workers. Under the pact, Britain would be expected to accept 20,000 workers, while German would take 7,000 and France 3,000.
The numbers are based on the size of the IT industry in each EU country and on the record of each one in granting work permits to Indian workers in the past – a factor which pushes Britain to the top of the list of those expected to accept new migrants.
The revelation comes at a time of mounting controversy over Government plans to limit numbers of non-EU migrants coming in to Britain.
Critics say Prime Minister David Cameron's pledge for a cap is being ever more diluted because of hostility from big business and pressure from Liberal Democrat members of the Coalition.
Last week Business Secretary Vince Cable won a concession from Mr Cameron to exclude from the cap foreign workers coming in under ‘intra-company' transfers, also known as Mode 4. Last year such transfers brought 22,000 skilled migrant workers into this country.
Each can stay for up to five years. Critics say some of these are simply cheap a replacement for British workers. EU officials are in talks over an EU/India free-trade agreement which may be finalised as soon as next week.
The negotiations, which are being held in secret, are thought to have included discussions of a Mode 4 trade deal allowing easy movement of Indian workers into Europe.
MigrationWatch chairman Sir Andrew Green said: ‘This looks suspiciously like a side-door to Britain for 20,000 Indian IT workers every year.
‘It is even more astonishing coming at a time when British IT workers are finding it increasingly difficult to find employment and there is a 17 per cent unemployment rate among computer science graduates.
‘It is time to end the secrecy and for the Government to come clean with what is going on and what, if any, safeguards are being put in place.'
Some EU countries – thought to be mainly in Eastern Europe – are believed to have insisted that the numbers of Indian workers they must accept under the deal be strictly limited.
Many Indian workers moving to Europe would be likely to come to Britain because of its familiar language, hospitality to migrant workers, and the large Indian population already in this country.
Mr Cameron has pledged to bring net migration – the number added to the population each year by migration – below the 100,000 a year mark. Last year net migration to Britain was 196,000.
Mr Cable made his opposition to an immigration cap known as he travelled with Mr Cameron to India in the summer. He said he wanted to make any limit on numbers ‘as liberal a policy as possible'. In September, Mr Cable said unemployed British school-leavers and graduates should go to India to get apprenticeships and training in high-tech industries.
He said the one-way direction of migrant workers from India to Britain should be transformed into a two-way exchange.‘I believe there should be a freer flow of labour,' he added.