by Philippe Legrain
"Vote Leave is also wrong to claim that curbing EU migration would boost public services. Studies show that EU migrants are net contributors to public finances: they pay more in taxes than they take out in benefits and services. In effect, EU migrants subsidise the public services, welfare benefits and pensions provided to British people. They enable taxes to be lower than otherwise. And they help repay the vast public debt incurred by the existing population.
So if Britain curbs EU migration, there will be less money available for public spending on UK residents, not more. Since many EU migrants work as doctors, nurses and other key workers in the NHS, keeping them out would also harm the delivery of public services. Reciprocal controls would hit Brits living elsewhere in the EU too. If the million or so British pensioners living in Spain benefiting from free healthcare had to come home, that would put even greater pressure on the NHS.
Since existing EU migrants are a boost to public finances, there is every reason to think that future ones would be too. And if and when Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, which are currently candidates for EU membership, eventually join, their impact on Britain will be small. Their combined population of 12.6 million is less than a third of Poland’s and the UK government has pledged to impose transitional restrictions to prevent the citizens of new EU member states coming to work in Britain for years. As for Turkey, its increasingly authoritarian government has no prospect of joining the EU any time soon. Even if it met the entry conditions, France, Cyprus and others have pledged to veto its entry – and Britain could too."