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Carl Josephs, Londra

17 Decembrie 2013
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With only a little more than two weeks before Romanians are able to work in the Britain without restriction, the country’s media is discussing what might happen on January 1st.

Romanians warned over UK move

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Foto: Arhivă Reuters.

With only a little more than two weeks before Romanians and Bulgarians are able to work in the Britain without restriction, the country’s media is discussing what might happen on January 1st.

Much of the coverage has been alarmist and xenophobic but there have been attempts to examine the issue soberly..

The BBC TV Panorama programme broadcast on Monday night in the UK was clearly not anti-Romanian in any way. The presenter, Paul Kenyon is married to a Romanian lawyer, and he has travelled extensively in the country. 

He sought to present the facts about Romanian current and possible future migration to Britain in a clear and objective manner.

Official statistics reveal  that there are around 100,000 Romanians living in the UK.  The question being asked by many here is how many more will come after January 1st when restrictions on coming to seek work will be lifted ?  The British Immigration Minister, Mark Harper, seems unable or unwilling to give an answer

"If you look at organisations that have made estimates they vary hugely. So some have made estimates to the low end, some have made very large estimates.  Frankly the range of those estimates demonstrates that it isn’t a very sensible thing to do".

This is one of the key problems because the public feels it is not being told the truth about numbers who might  come. And there is another more serious issue that is being exploited by some political groups here. 

The official statistics for London reveal that 49 per cent of all those arrested for begging and 34 per cent of all arrests for pickpocketing  are Romanian.

Then there are the well-reported cases of gangs of Romanians sleeping in parks and on private land. 

And even more reports of anti-social behaviour –  loud music and boisterous behaviour late at night. This is all ammunition for the anti-foreigner United Kingdom Independence party, UKIP  that wants to see a restriction of foreigners coming into Britain.  Paul Nuttal is one of their  MEPs .   

"Crime will come if these people come in numbers, and I think that that is somethe British people and the British society as a whole  just doesn’t need. I’m not sure if it’s specific to Romanians but I think there is a definite link between Romanians and crime and that’s born out by these statistics".

And here is the real difficulty for those wanting to deal with this issue calmly and coolly. The crime statistics, and those  for Romanians sleeping rough and working here illegally  refer overwhelmingly to poor Romanians , mostly Roma.

The Panorama programme  travelled to Apaste and Augustine in Transylvania where allegedly most of the men – hundreds of them – had come to Britain to work without permits.  It linked up with one  of the men in England and showed what a hard life he was experiencing.

As a contrast  Paul Kenyon attended a reception at the Romanian Embassy in London where he spoke to young, middle-class, well- educated, successful  Romanians living in here. They were troubled by the way Romania and Romanians are being portrayed in the media.  

He also spent time in Bucharest talking to other young professionals – some of whom had been offered jobs in the UK, but who did not want to take them, either because they were happy in Romania or preferred to go to Germany or France or the United States. 

One young woman explained that she had lived in Britain for three years, and that was more than enough, thank you.

This programme was made for a British audience, and it did show that Romania is in many ways a divided country, between the haves and the have-nots.  And that the better-off may not be queuing up to come here. But it also showed  that those living in poverty and who feel there is little opportunity for them in their homeland may take the chance of a new life in this country.


Etichete UKRomaniansBulgariansBritainxenophobicworkcountrymediaRoma

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