The number of Romanians and Bulgarians in the UK is more than 60 times the amount of British ex-pats in the eastern European nations, new figures have revealed.
There were 413,000 Romanian and Bulgarian citizens living in Britain last year, compared with the 6,200 Britons living in the two EU member states.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures come as part of a study on migration patterns between the UK and other member states within the Brussels bloc.
The influx of people moving from Romania and Bulgaria comes after the countries – referred to as the EU2 – were granted unrestricted rights to live and work in Britain in 2014.
The rights were granted seven years after the states had officially joined the European Union.
ONS deputy director for population statistics Rich Pereira said: “The picture of migration between the UK and the EU2 countries clearly shows a somewhat lopsided balance of movement, with the UK evidently proving an attractive labour market for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens since those countries’ full accession to the EU.
“This presents an obvious area of concern for both those large numbers of citizens who have moved to the UK, and for the jobs they have been doing, as the UK continues its negotiations to leave the EU.”
The 413,000 figure for last year eclipses the 234,000 recorded two years earlier.
The study shows 78% of the 328,400 EU2 citizens in the UK between the start of 2014 and the end of 2016 were from Romania – a total of 256,800 people.
A total of 71,700 – 22% – of EU2 citizens during the same period were Bulgarian.
The figures showed 81% of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals living in Britain over the three years were aged between 16 and 64.
Almost four in five of those people were in employment.
Just 4% of those of working age were thought to be unemployed, 5% were inactive due to study and the 12% were “otherwise economically inactive”.
The ONS statistics come as the UK and the EU continue to thrash out Brexit talks, with Britain hoping to secure rights for the estimated three million EU nationals in the UK and one million Britons living in EU states.
Prime Minister Theresa May has since admitted during an LBC phone-in that “we don’t know what’s going to happen” to EU nationals in Britain if negotiators fail to reach a deal, but she insisted they were “very close” on citizens’ rights.