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UK Romanian and Bulgarian population dwarfs British ex-pats in those countries

There were 413,000 citizens of Romania and Bulgaria living in the UK last year – compared with 6,200 UK citizens resident in the nations.

The population of Romanians and Bulgarians in the United Kingdom is more than 60 times the number of British ex-pats living in the two eastern European countries.

There were 413,000 citizens of Romania and Bulgaria living in the UK last year – compared with 6,200 UK citizens resident in the nations.

The figures are set out in the latest in a line of reports from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) examining migration patterns between the UK and other EU countries.

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(PA Graphics)

Romania and Bulgaria – referred to as the EU2 nations – joined the bloc in 2007 but they were not given immediate unrestricted rights to live or work in the UK until 2014.

Rich Pereira, ONS deputy director for population statistics, said: “The picture of migration between the UK and the EU2 countries clearly shows a somewhat lopsided balance of movement, with the UK evidently proving an attractive labour market for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens since those countries’ full accession to the EU.

“This presents an obvious area of concern for both those large numbers of citizens who have moved to the UK, and for the jobs they have been doing, as the UK continues its negotiations to leave the EU.”

Figures have previously indicated a rise in the EU2 population in the UK following the lifting of restrictions in January 2014.

The 413,000 figure for last year compared to 234,000 two years earlier.

It is estimated that on average 328,400 EU2 citizens were resident in the UK from the start of 2014 to the end of 2016, of which 78% were Romanians (256,800) and 22% were Bulgarians (71,700), according to the new ONS analysis.

It found 81% of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals living in the UK over the three years were aged between 16 and 64, with nearly four in five in employment.

Of those considered to be of working age, 11,500, or 4%, were estimated to be unemployed, 12,600 were estimated to be inactive due to study (5%) and 32,100 were “otherwise economically inactive” (12%), the report said.

Statisticians found that for both nationalities the most common employers are the distribution, hotels and restaurants industry and the construction sector, which together account for nearly half (46%) of the EU2 workforce.

Of Bulgarian citizens in employment in the UK, 18% work in banking and finance, while 14% of Romanian nationals are employed in the industry.

The analysis also cited data showing an estimated 3,900 British citizens were resident in Bulgaria last year, with 2,300 living in Romania.

UK migrants living in Bulgaria are predominantly aged 50 years and older, while those in Romania are mainly in the 30 to 49 age bracket.

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