Britain ‘can’t restrict EU migrants’

It will not be possible for Britain to restrict the freedom of movement of Bulgarians and Romanians when transitional controls are lifted, the European Commission’s vice-president warned yesterday.

Prime Minister David Cameron told ministers earlier this week to prepare action to ensure that the UK’s public services and welfare system are not a “soft touch” for migrants, including those coming from other EU states.

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Mr Cameron chaired a Whitehall committee on the issue on Tuesday, amid fears that the lifting of transitional controls at the end of this year may spark a wave of immigrants from the EU’s newest member states.

But EU Justice Commissioner and Commission vice-president Viviane Reding yesterday said that, from 2014, Romanian and Bulgarian nationals must be treated in the same way as citizens of other member states, who have the right to work and settle in the UK.

“It is necessary to have the same rights for the citizens all over Europe,” Ms Reding told BBC Radio 4’s World at One.