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EU migration boost public coffers in most of Europe: study

LONDON (Reuters) - Migrant European Union workers have boosted the public finances in most countries in Europe, chief among them Switzerland, Cyprus, Norway and Belgium, according to an academic study published on Thursday.

Those four countries experienced the biggest benefit as they received proportionally large numbers of workers from within the EU, many of them highly-skilled workers, the research by Sweden’s University of Uppsala showed.

“Our analysis shows that in most countries in the European Economic Area, EU citizens pay slightly more in taxes and other contributions to the state than they receive in services, meaning that they make a net fiscal contribution,” Rafael Ahlskog, a co-author of the report, said.

The authors said the report was the first major analysis of the fiscal impacts of European migration in the EEA - which includes the 28 EU member states plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein - and in Switzerland.

Other academic studies have also suggested EU migration tends to help the public finances of host countries although, as shown in the study published on Thursday, the impact is generally believed to be small as a share of national economies.

The University of Uppsala report showed 21 of 29 countries studied got a fiscal boost from EU migration while seven Eastern European nations and Ireland lost out slightly because EU migrants in those countries tended to be older or lower paid.

Switzerland had the biggest net positive effect at 1.7 percent of gross domestic product, followed by Cyprus on 1.3 percent. Norway and Belgium each saw a boost of 0.8 percent.

In Britain, where worries about migration played a part in the decision by voters in 2016 to leave the EU, the fiscal boost from migration from the bloc was seen at 0.3 percent of GDP.

The report did not consider the impact on the public finances from emigration which has seen some countries, typically in Eastern Europe, lose large numbers of working-age people, putting a strain on the funding of public spending.

Writing by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce and Pritha Sarkar