Britain 'will benefit from enlarged EU'

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The Independent Online

The 10 new member states of the European Union will form an opportunity rather than a threat to the British economy when they join on 1 May, according to a detailed report by an independent economic analyst published today.

The accession countries offer a source of well-educated, highly motivated employees that could help to alleviate pressures in the labour market, especially in the hard-pressed NHS, it said. The study, by the ITEM Club forecast unit run by accountants Ernst & Young, said an influx of new workers would benefit the economy in the same way previous waves of immigrants had done.

The report provides solid evidence to challenge hostile articles in the right-wing press claiming that Britain will have to fork out millions of pounds to so-called "benefit tourists".

The ITEM Club said a sustained increase in the net immigration of about 70,000 people a year would boost the long-term rate of economic growth by 0.1 per cent a year. Professor Peter Spencer, its chief economic adviser, said: "The UK needs more migrants from central Europe who are typically well-educated by international standards. My only concern is that not enough young people will make the trip after 1 May."