Germany revealed as main destination of EU migrants, as Poland vows to veto UK

Poles warn Cameron that discrimination on welfare payments crosses 'red line'

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The Independent Online

Germany – not the UK – is officially the main destination of free movement within the European Union, a study suggests.

Nearly 30 per cent of migrants taking advantage of free-movement rules inside the EU in 2012 travelled to Germany, compared with just 7 per cent of such migrants who moved to Britain, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said.

The findings emerged after David Cameron signalled that he was ready to lead Britain out of the EU if other member states refused to compromise on the principle of free movement, which he and other ministers say is behind a surge in immigration to the UK. Mr Cameron acknowledged that Germany “has had more EU migrants” but argued that it is “in a different situation”, with a population that is falling whereas Britain’s is rising.

The OECD study also confirmed that more than a quarter of foreign nationals living in the UK are from the 10 European states that have joined the EU since 2004, with half from Poland alone, meaning there are almost as many Poles in the UK as there are in the Polish city of Krakow, home to 750,000 people.

Last week, the Prime Minister said he would deter EU migrants from coming to Britain by imposing restrictions on welfare benefits. But yesterday the Polish Foreign Secretary insisted that his country was prepared to block Mr Cameron’s plans unless he applied the measures to Britons as well.

Rafal Trzaskowski said it was an “absolute red line” for his government that there was no discrimination in the welfare system on grounds of nationality. He said: “When it comes to changing the rules in the EU, when it comes to social support and so forth, when it comes to undermining the existing laws, obviously we are going to react quite strongly and we are going to be against.

“But the most important thing is that David Cameron wants to talk about it and doesn’t want to change policies unilaterally.”

Stefano Scarpetta, the OECD’s director for employment, labour and social affairs, said: “Today’s migrants are better educated than their predecessors. The number of foreign-born who are highly educated has grown by 70 per cent over the past decade to exceed 31 million in the OECD area. Over that period, highly educated immigrants accounted for 45 per cent of the increase in the foreign-born population.”