London: For the first time, a leading British politician has called for restrictions on the migration of people from the European Union coming to Britain reflecting the increasing concerns over immigration from new EU countries such as Poland, Bulgaria and Romania.
In an article in the `Observer`, Ed Balls, who is one of the contenders in the election for the next leader of the Labour party said, British workers had been affected by migration policies under the previous Labour governments.
So far, concerns about immigration were mainly directed at migrants from India and other non-European Union countries, but there are growing voices against the migration of large number of citizens from countries who have recently become members of the European Union and who have the legal right to move to Britain.
Balls, MP for Morley and Outwood in West Yorkshire, said high levels of immigration under Labour had an impact on the pay and conditions of "too many people".
Balls said he was a "strong pro-European" but of the "hard-headed rather than romantic variety".
He wrote, "There have been real economic gains from the arrival of young, hard-working migrants from eastern Europe over the past six years".
He added, "But there has also been a direct impact on the wages, terms and conditions of too many people – in communities ill-prepared to deal with the reality of globalisation, including the one I represent."
Balls went on to write, "As Labour seeks to rebuild trust with the British people, it is important we are honest about what we got wrong".
In retrospect, Britain should not have rejected transitional controls on migration from the first wave of new EU member states in 2004, which we were legally entitled to impose.
It is widely believed that immigration was an issue that Labour did not adequately address during the recent election.
Balls also criticised the David Cameron coalition government`s policies for failing to address the concerns of working people worried about being undercut by unskilled migrants.
He believes its commitment to cap immigration from outside the EU did not answer concerns among the British workforce about being undercut by unskilled labour from eastern Europe.