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Deputy British PM calls for limits on EU migration

Migration to Britain from countries joining the European Union should be restricted, the deputy prime minister urged Monday (August 4), entering a touchstone debate on immigration and Europe nine months from a general election.

LONDON: Migration to Britain from countries joining the European Union should be restricted, the deputy prime minister urged Monday (August 4), entering a touchstone debate on immigration and Europe nine months from a general election.

Currently, new members of the EU can wait up to seven years before their citizens gain the right to live and work in other nations in the bloc. But Nick Clegg, who leads the Liberal Democrats, junior partner in Britain's coalition government, is to propose an extension to this due to economic differences between countries, according to a released copy of a speech to be given later on Monday.

Additionally, countries like Britain should also have the right to curb admissions if too many migrants arrive once the time limit is over, the deputy prime minister will say.

"It is only right - and I say this as a pro-European - that we reform freedom of movement to reflect these realities," Clegg says in his speech. "This is not about bolting the door, but it is about steadying the flow of people into Britain in a way that is careful and honest. It is in everyone's interests - British-born or not - for people living here to feel confident that, when a new member joins the EU, there will be no surprises and they have nothing to fear."

Current EU candidate countries include Albania, Iceland, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, but European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has said there will be no new members over the next five years.

Clegg will also say that early entry for entrepreneurs should be ended, to stop immigrants abusing the rule by posing as businessmen and taking up low-paid jobs on arrival.

Polls show immigration to be a top concern for British voters ahead of a general election in May 2015. Under pressure from the rise of the eurosceptic UK Independence party, Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to re-negotiate Britain's ties with the EU and has promised a referendum on membership in 2017 if he is re-elected.