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Net migration falls, with lowest net migration from EU8 since they joined the EU – but “tens of thousands” target still a long way off

25 May 2017

New net migration data show a sharp rise in emigration by EU8 nationals and a fall in immigration from the EU8 countries. But the UK is unlikely to see net migration in the tens of thousands in the near future, whichever party wins the general election, the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said today.

In 2016 the UK saw net migration of +248,000 new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show today. This is a statistically significant drop of 84,000 from 2015. The drop is due in large part to a statistically significant decrease of 41,000 in net migration of EU8 nationals. Net migration from the EU8 countries currently stands at +5,000, the lowest estimate since these countries joined the EU in 2004.

While the reduction in net migration was statistically significant, none of the policies announced in the manifestos are likely to be able to further reduce net migration number by more than a half. The Conservatives policies are largely unchanged, but with increased costs while neither the Liberal Democrats or the Labour Party supports a numerical migration target – See the Migration Observatory Commentary – Number 10: the biggest number in the UK migration debate.

Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva, acting director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “While public opinion in the UK has supported reductions in immigration for many years, achieving these sorts of cuts is difficult in practice. It seems unlikely that we will see net migration in the ‘tens of thousands’ in the near future without either an economic downturn, or a new set of much more restrictive immigration policies. Even with the current low levels of net migration from the EU8 countries, the total estimate is still more than twice the Government’s target.”


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