EU net migration falls to lowest level since 2012

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Net migration to the UK from the European Union has fallen to the lowest level in nearly five years, official figures reveal.

An estimated 90,000 more long-term EU migrants arrived in Britain than left in the 12 months to September 2017.

It is the first time net migration from the bloc has dipped below 100,00 since the year to March 2013, and the lowest figure recorded since 2012.

Net migration to the UK: EU v non-EU
(PA Graphics)

Immigration figures published since the EU referendum have sparked claims of a “Brexodus” – though commentators pointed out more people are still coming to live in the UK than departing.

Overall net long-term migration – the difference between the numbers arriving and leaving for at least 12 months – from the EU and the rest of the world was 244,000 in the 12 months to September.

Net migration to the UK from the EU (Infographic from PA Graphics)
Net migration to the UK from the EU (PA Graphics)

Nicola White, ONS head of international migration statistics, said net migration is at a similar level to early 2014.

She added: “Brexit could well be a factor in people’s decision to move to or from the UK, but people’s decision to migrate is complicated and can be influenced by lots of different reasons.”

The figures showed:

– Year-on-year falls in net migration from Romania and Bulgaria, 14 long-term EU members including France, Spain, Italy and Germany, and eight eastern and central European nations which joined the union in 2004

– The number of EU citizens coming to the UK fell to 220,000 – similar to levels seen in 2014

– EU nationals are departing the UK in the largest numbers for nearly a decade, with an outflow of 130,000 over the year to September

– The number of EU citizens coming to work in the UK fell by 58,000

– Non-EU net migration is now well above EU net migration, having risen to 205,000

The figures come as Government officials work to draw up post-Brexit arrangements which incorporate an end to free movement while ensuring that any fall in overseas labour does not damage the economy.

Jonathan Portes, senior fellow at The UK in a Changing Europe and professor of economic and public policy at King’s College London, said the fall in net migration from the EU is “due to the fact that, after the Brexit vote, the UK has become significantly less attractive to European migrants, for both economic and psychological reasons”.

“The construction and hospitality industries are particularly affected and many clients have the ready supply of people as a top risk as we approach March 2019.”

EU citizens leaving the UK (PA Graphics)
EU citizens leaving the UK (PA Graphics)

“The fall in overall net migration is welcome but it is still running at nearly a quarter of a million a year – far above the Government’s target.”

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said the Government is committed to bringing net migration down to the tens of thousands.

“This means an immigration system that attracts and retains people who come to work and bring significant benefits to the UK but does not offer an open door to those who don’t,” she said.

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