Britain is migrant magnet of Europe: Only Spain admits more non-EU immigrants

Britain accepts more non-European immigrants than any other EU country except Spain, it emerged yesterday.

The latest annual figures showed immigration from Asia, Africa and the Americas running at 307,000, against 284,000 received by Italy and the 238,000 who went to Germany.

These comparisons are striking because Italy is the main destination for hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East who see it as the easiest route into Europe, and for decades Germany accepted more migrants than any other European country.

Non-European immigrants: Britain accepts more than any other EU country except Spain

Non-European immigrants: Britain accepts more than any other EU country except Spain

The only country that takes more non-EU immigrants than Britain now is Spain, the European country of choice for most Latin Americans.

The figures, which cover 2008, show that Spain took 499,000 non-EU migrants.

The news comes as ministers prepare caps on migration from outside Europe, the only possible form of control because EU laws demand free movement between the 27 member states.

They have promised to reduce annual ‘net migration’ – calculated by subtracting the number of emigrants from the immigrant total – to below 100,000, a level last seen in the late Nineties. Tory MPs warned that the new figures show the need for the Coalition to act effectively.

Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton, said: ‘We made a clear promise to cut net migration from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands.

‘These figures show that the Government needs to pull its finger out and get on with it.

‘People are fed up with talk. They want to see significant reductions. People will hold ministers to account for this at the next election.’

Last week, a Whitehall survey showed four out of five people want to see immigration reduced and more than half the population want to see immigration cut ‘a lot’.

The figures from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics department, show only four member states accepted more than 100,000 immigrants from outside the EU in 2008.

France used to admit high numbers of immigrants, but it took only 89,000 two years ago, fewer than a third of the number coming to Britain. 

The country outside the EU from where the most people came to Britain in 2008 was India, at 47,000.

In that year, 165,000 people arrived in the UK from Commonwealth countries and 142,000 from other non-EU nations.

The most recent statistics show 303,000 people came to Britain from outside the EU in 2009 – the latest year for which figures are available.

Net migration then was 193,000, a figure which is likely to have risen to well over 200,000 because fewer people emigrate in a recession.

In April, the Government will introduce rules intended to cap visas for less skilled workers from outside Europe to 21,700 next year, a reduction of a fifth.

A consultation on how to cut the number of student visas is under way.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘This shows why the Government is committed to reducing net migration to sustainable levels from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands within the lifetime of this Parliament.

‘We have already introduced a limit on non-EU economic migration and throughout 2011 we will be introducing further controls across the board to affect every immigration route.

‘We will exert steady downward pressure on immigration numbers, which is the sensible way to deal with the uncontrolled immigration system we inherited.’

  • This article has been amended. It previously contained a graphic that correctly listed the latest annual number of non EU nationals admitted to each of ten European Countries. However a second table was wrongly headed 'Non EU citizens to each square kilometre' instead of 'Number of people to each square kilometre.' We are happy to correct the point.