An analysis by the Migration Observatory at Oxford University found that six nations have been responsible for 80 per cent of the growth in the UK’s EU-born population between 2011-15, with Spain, Italy and Portugal joining Poland, Romania and Hungary as key drivers behind the increase.
The report said that, over the five years, the number of EU-born nationals living in the UK had increased by almost 700,000 to 3.3 million. People from Poland and Romania had accounted for almost half the rise but, as the eurozone crisis sent unemployment soaring in southern Europe, 24 per cent had come from Spain, Italy and Portugal.
Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory, said, “There is no single factor driving high levels of EU migration in recent years.
“Some drivers are likely to remain in place for some years, such as the relatively low wages in new EU member states, particularly Romania. Others could potentially dissipate more quickly, like high unemployment in Spain.
“Despite recent debates about the role of UK policies like welfare benefits or the minimum wage in driving migration, migration may respond more to factors that governments don’t directly control, like demographics and economic growth in other EU countries.”