060829migrants
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060829migrants

Course Number: ECO 338, Fall 2008

College/University: Chester

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Romania demands equality - Print Version - International Herald Tribune Romania demands equality By Nicholas Wood International Herald Tribune WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 30, 2006 BUCHAREST President Traian Basescu of Romania, wading into the European debate on immigration, has played down fears of a mass influx of job seekers when his country and Bulgaria join the European Union next year, and has threatened...

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demands Romania equality - Print Version - International Herald Tribune Romania demands equality By Nicholas Wood International Herald Tribune WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 30, 2006 BUCHAREST President Traian Basescu of Romania, wading into the European debate on immigration, has played down fears of a mass influx of job seekers when his country and Bulgaria join the European Union next year, and has threatened countermeasures if tough restrictions are imposed. With Britain and other countries considering far tighter limits on Romanians and Bulgarians than they imposed when the EU expanded to 25 members in 2004, the issue has become highly sensitive, both here and across Europe. Romania, with 22 million people, will be the EU's poorest member upon accession, which is expected in just four months, on Jan. 1. But it does not expect to be treated as a "second-class citizen," Basescu said in an interview. "I don't think EU member states should be worried about an influx of new immigrants," he said at Cotroceni Palace, the official residence of the president in Bucharest, where he looked relaxed and tanned from a recent vacation on the Black Sea coast. He called European fears of a threat from migrants unfounded, citing the relative strength of the Romanian economy. "The increase in salaries at private companies has exploded, and Romania also faces a labor shortage, especially in construction," he said. "We believe that the Romanian market will remain an incentive, so that migration will not be an issue." In addition, he noted, in an admonishment to European leaders, "Labor- force mobility is part of the idea of joining the European Union." But with wages in Western Europe far higher than in Romania, few European analysts believe that the country's current growth will prevent workers from seeking jobs, legally or illegally, elsewhere in the EU. The annual per capita income here averages 21,000 Romanian new lei, or $7,700. "They are going to come anyway," said Paul Hofheinz, director of the Lisbon Council, a Brussels-based political research group. The challenge, he said, would be to try to stem the flow of migrants. "If they try to block this with regulation," he said, "you create a really large black market for labor." According to Paul-Andre Baran, an economist with Romania Think Tank, a research and advocacy organization in Bucharest, nearly 10 percent of Romania's population is already working abroad. "It's thought that around two million Romanians have left to work in Western Europe in the last four years, the majority of them in Italy and Spain," Baran said. Whole towns in some areas "have been left empty except for the elderly," he said, with the younger generation seeking jobs abroad. Nonetheless, Basescu insisted that the debate on migration in European states was being "generated by political interests, and not by the reality in Romania." Tension about the new expansion has mounted in anticipation of a report by the European Commission on Sept. 27 that will determine whether Romania and Bulgaria may join as scheduled in January. All 25 of the European Union's member states are entitled to impose restrictions workers on from new member states for seven years. In 2004, 12 EU member states imposed controls on workers from the 8 East European states that joined that year; only Britain, Ireland and Sweden fully opened their labor markets. This time most EU states are likely to impose similar rules. Concern has been particularly acute in Britain, where immigration from Eastern Europe has far exceeded expectations, putting pressure on the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair. Last week, Britain's trade secretary said the country planned to limit the number of migrants from both Romania and Bulgaria, a smaller country of eight million people. In the interview, Basescu said that the issue of restrictions on Romanians would be addressed in bilateral talks. "But if there are countries that choose to apply this system," he said, "obviously Romania will apply similar measures to citizens from that country. No one should count on our timidity." His comment took analysts here by surprise. Caterina Nicolai, a commentator with Gandul, a Romanian daily newspaper, said that countermeasures would be far more damaging to Romania than elsewhere. This is so because its economic growth has been fueled mostly by foreign investment from EU member states. Basescu, noting that Romania's gross domestic product has been growing at an annual rate of 6 percent over the last six years, said that the country had "probably one of the highest economic dynamics in Europe" and should not be put in a separate category from other EU members. "We are the country that has attracted the biggest volume of foreign investment in southeastern Europe in the past few years," he said. "Romania doesn't need to beat itself, believing that it is a second-class citizen." Romanian news coverage of the debate in Europe has fanned fears here that wealthier EU members will shut their doors to Romanian nationals. On Tuesda...
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