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British minister David Lidington said in Bucharest that the reform of the British wellfare system will not discriminate the Romanians and there never existed a conspiracy in granting permits to Romanian workers and students. Titus Corlatean asks British media and politicians to avoid references to welfare tourism.
David Lidington, the British minister for European Affairs, said that the topic of Romanians who go to the United Kingdom is important and raises understandable concern, but the bilateral relations is too valuable to allow this topic become problematic. “I want to be clear. UK will open its labour market for Romanians and Bulgarians in 2014. It is our obligation according to the Treaty and we have no intention of doing otherwise. We recognize the positive impact of European citizens using their fundamental rights. Over 1.5 million British citizens living and working in other EU countries benefit from these rights,” the British official said Tuesday evening in a conference hosted by the New Europe College.He stressed that one of the most important achievements of the EU is removing the barriers for the free movement, and London authorities recognise and appreciate the contribution of the tens of thousands of Romanians working in Great Britain, in the professional sector, constructions, medical assistance, agriculture.On the other hand, he assured that the measures prepared by the British government in view of restricting the access of immigrants to the system of social benefits will not be discriminatory.“In the UK we’re building an immigration system which should work in our national interest, supporting our economy by bringing talents from all around the world, including Romania and Bulgaria, but at the same time protecting our public services and our social insurance systems, trying to end illegal migration and abuse in the system. Last month, our premier met the ministers over this topic and we consider common rules on the access to social benefits, housing, the medical system and other services. Any measures regarding the emigration from the EU to Great Britain will equally apply to the citizens of all member states. There will be no origin-related discrimination,” Lidington mentioned.He added that similar measures have been adopted by other states of the EU and explained that the fundamental principle of the British system of social insurances is stimulating work, rather than securing the personal income through social benefits.According to the British official, London wants to make sure that Romanians and Bulgarians are not “exploited by the criminal networks or by unscrupulous employers,” as it unfortunately was the case with other European citizens when they were granted uncontrolled access to the labour market.
Lidington emphasised that Romania is the fourth largest source of victims for human trafficking in the United Kingdom and there should be a stronger collaboration between the specialised agencies of the two countries, also reminding about the information and awareness campaign conducted with this regard in Romania by the UK Border Agency (UKBA).The British minister of European Affairs also mentioned that the problem regarding the delays in issuing permits to Romanian workers and students going to the UK was not “a grand conspiracy” and measures were taken to shorten the processing time of applications.In a different move, Lidington emphasised that the strategic partnership with Romania, signed in 2011, has “a crucial importance” and British exports to our country soared by 36 pc during the last two years.He pointed to the interest of British companies for the Romanian IT sector, adding that there already are important investments in this field in Cluj and Iasi, but there is also a British presence in the energy sector, in nuclear energy and telecommunications.Lidington mentioned that the UK will remain committed in the EU and added that his country is perhaps the only western state that remains enthusiast about the enlargement of the EU and supports Romania’s efforts with this respect in the Neighbourhood Policy addressed to the countries of Eastern Europe, as well as in supporting the states of Western Balkans.He also evoked the collaboration inside NATO, Romania’s contribution in Afghanistan, the fight against terrorism at international scale, against cybercrime, the expertise of our country with regard to Syria and other Arab states.Referring to the Republic of Moldova, Lidington mentioned that the neighbour country has the right to become a member of the EU if it meets the accession criteria, and assured that London grants a particular importance to Chisinau signing the accord of association with the EU and the free trade agreement.
The minister of Foreign Affairs, Titus Corlatean launched an appeal yesterday, after meeting David Lidington, to the media of the United Kingdom to avoid references to Romanian in the context of “the so-called welfare tourism.” Corlatean added that, “even if they will nto have legal consequences, the opinions expressed during the public debate in the United Kingdom, in the media or by some British politicians can create a wrong image about the Romanian community as a whole, all the Romanians living in the UK, and can encourage certain discriminatory tendencies, even temptations.”Corlatean said that he salutes the reconfirmation received from the British official about lifting the labour restrictions and that the Romanian government respects the national competence of the London government to enforce the reform of the access to social benefits, as long as it refers to all the European citizens and observes the regulatory framework of the EU.