Employers group the CBI has welcomed the Government's decision to allow Romania and Bulgaria gradual access to Britain's labour market, rather than opening up immediately.
The two countries were today granted accession to the European Union from 1 January 2007, but they are expected to face curbs on labour migration, not least because their economic output per capita is around one-third of the EU average.
Britain, Ireland and Sweden, which opened their job markets for workers from the 10 countries that entered the EU in 2004, are considering restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians.
Richard Lambert, head of the CBI, said: "The UK's economy has benefited enormously from the skills and hard work of Central European migrant workers. They have filled major gaps in our labour market and delivered a significant boost to the national wealth.
"Yet, given the unexpectedly large number of workers who have arrived, the Government is right to take a more gradual approach to opening up to Romania and Bulgaria while the full effects of existing migration become clear."
Last month, British Hospitality Association chief executive Bob Cotton called for a temporary ban on migration from the two states after a BHA survey found 70% of London's 300,000-strong hospitality workforce already comes from overseas.
It also discovered that 80% of workers in the capital's top 25 hotels are from abroad.
By Daniel Thomas
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Published by: The Caterer