ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) Urges Curbs On EU Immigrants

Tue, Oct 03, 06
ESRI urges curbs on new EU immigrants
The Irish Times

Immigration from Bulgaria and Romania should be restricted through a system of work permits when the two states join the EU next year, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has said, writes Marc Coleman, Economics Editor.

Dr Alan Barrett of the ESRI said the organisation was not anti-immigrant but believed there should be a pause in the current regime. Ireland is one of only three EU states that allows immigrants from new member states unrestricted access.

“What we're asking for is a pause in this very liberal policy,” said Dr Barrett, who was presenting the ESRI Quarterly Economic Commentary yesterday.

Calling for an annual review of the immigration regime, he said a liberal approach to immigration had greatly helped the economy in the last decade but the “economic context” for immigration may now have changed. “Whatever we do, Bulgarian and Romanian immigration into Ireland is still going to be strong. Research in this area is in its infancy and there are a whole lot of unanswered questions,” he said.

In its latest commentary the ESRI also warns that an “economic correction” in the US could lead to the loss of 90,000 jobs in Ireland. It has also revised downwards its expectations for further increases in interest rates, predicting three more rises of 0.25 of a percentage point.

Economic growth will remain robust over the coming two years, the ESRI predicts. Gross Domestic Product – the value of goods and services produced in the economy each year – is set to grow by 5.9 per cent this year and by 5 per cent next year. The ESRI also predicts inflation to slow next year, to 3.6 per cent from an expected 4 per cent average this year. Job creation will also slow from 91,000 jobs this year to 71,000 in 2007.

But Dr Barrett said the projected growth performance was vulnerable because of an unsustainable imbalance between US imports and exports. This can only rectified by a slowdown in the US economy, which would have an impact on the Irish economy. He said as a result there could be up to 90,000 job losses by 2010.