According to data from ten national statistics offices, only 80,000 had emigrated to the United Kingdom, compared to more than two million Romanians living in other EU member states.
Lifting all work restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians on 1 January 2014 has caused fears that citizens of these countries might move to the UK to claim benefits, with David Cameron calling for limits to the freedom of movement.
Britons themselves make widespread use of their right to live and work in EU countries: Spain’s Costa del Sol and the Balearics attract the biggest number of UK expatriates (400,000), followed by 150,000 living in France and 100,000 in Germany.
In the UK: Germans and French outnumbered by Poles
On the other hand, roughly the same number of German and French citizens leave their home countries to settle in the United Kingdom in company of more than 100,000 Italians and Portuguese.
However, those four nations’ emigrants combined are outnumbered by more than half a million Poles living in the UK.
The most recent ONS figures also show that in 2011, three years before the freedom of movement was extended, just below 50,000 Bulgarians and 80,000 Romanians were granted permission from the government to legally live in the UK.
A far greater number of citizens from these two countries moved to other European countries, with around one million Romanians choosing Italy and more than 800,000 emigrating to Spain.
Bulgarians’ most popular destinations were Spain, Germany and Greece – countries that had lifted restrictions on the freedom of movement, which has come under critic from David Cameron, earlier than the UK.