The east of England tackles the immigration problems posed by the EU enlargement. 13 October 2008. The east of England is requesting an EU-wide fund to help deal with the pressure on public services caused by the influx of migrant workers and pay for projects to help them integrate into communities.
Council and regional government representatives, meeting the EU officials in Brussels, backed measures looking at how to create a European neighbourhood policy to help co-ordinate and manage migration.
The fund, which would start from 2013, could help councils where public services such as health and education are under strain, or fund specific projects aimed at improving cohesion and integration.
About 85,000 Eastern Europeans have arrived in East Anglia since 2004, but half of them are supposed to have returned to their home countries for a variety of reasons including the credit crunch.
Sharon Taylor, who represents the east of England on the EU’s committee of the regions, drawn up the proposals and sent them to Euro MPs to draft into an EU- wide scheme. Ms Taylor said an EU fund was needed because many of the problems arising were a direct consequence of enlargement.
Jo Richardson, corporate equality and diversity manager for Norfolk County Council, said: “We know from published research that many businesses in the region are dependent on migrant working to sustain their current levels of production, and migrant workers make a significant financial contribution to the region’s economy, so we look forward to learning the detail of how this funding could work.”
The Euro MPs Geoffrey van Orden and Richard Howitt specified they would support the idea.
Mr Howitt declared although some EU and government funding was already available to help refugees and asylum seekers coming to the UK, there was a need for cash where migration levels had risen very quickly.
Translation costs represent a big challenge in counties such as Norfolk – with some councils such as West Norfolk, the police, and the NHS each facing six-figure bills to get leaflets and information translated from English. Another issue elligible for funding could be the initiative of Norfolk Association of Local Councils’ “love thy neighbour” – a plan to forge better links with migrant workers, encouraging them to join parish councils.
The Local Government Association, which has previously called on the UK government to set up a contingency fund to help councils cope with increased migration, has also worked closely on the initiative.