Editorial

No to Romania’s Schengen entry

ImageFrench President Francois Hollande will block Romania’s bid to enter the Schengen zone on January 1, 2014, according to an unnamed source from the French Government.

Quoted by the French media, the source claimed the French President supports the position of France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who recently expressed concerns over the influx of Roma to the country.

As a consequence of this firm line, Hollande will reject Romanian’s ascension to the passport free zone, the source states.

 “An associate of the President is categorical: Romania will be refused the Schengen entry on January 1, 2014, as the conditions are not met,” The French website Europe1.fr writes.

“Most of the Roma are destined to be escorted back to their origin country.”

The statement quoted by TheEurope1.fr is in line with remarks recently made by Manuel Vells.

However this time, the comments were attributed to Francois Hollande.

“Only a minority seeks to integrate,” he is reported to have said.

Europe1.fr added that the President’s opinion goes further than concerns over a Roma influx and takes into account the difficulties faced by elected officials.

The president asks: “Whether France is destined to host all those most vulnerable?”

The statement, notes Europe1.fr, echoes the words of Michel Rocard, who back in 1990 said: “France can’t host all the misery of the world”.

Recently, Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, has also expressed her concerns over Romania and Bulgaria’s Schengen entry.

However, earlier in September, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Romania and Bulgaria have met the criteria for Schengen area membership and should be given a chance to enter the zone as soon as possible.

Both countries have been refused access into the Schengen area in the last few years, with several countries taking turns in opposing it.

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Editorial

Polls: No indication of huge Romanian-Bulgarian influx

rtr2byqt

Polls: No indication of huge Romanian-Bulgarian influx

Work restrictions expiring later this year for migrants from Romania and Bulgaria have had little impact on the numbers planning to move to the UK or wider EU, BBC Newsnight polls suggest.

The countries joined the EU in 2007 but many member states put limits on their citizens working which end this year.

This has raised concerns in the UK that many will now come to seek jobs.

But BBC surveys in each country, both of more than 1,000 people, suggest most would move only with a firm work offer.

Of those questioned more people intended to seek work in the EU including the UK in 2013 than in 2014.

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Editorial

Where Bulgarians and Romanians can work in Europe?

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European Commission
Press release
Brussels, 21 December 2012
Commission authorises Spain to extend existing temporary restrictions on Romanian workers.
The European Commission has approved a request from the Spanish authorities made on 13 December 2012 to extend the temporary restriction on access for Romanian workers to the Spanish labour market until 31 December 2013 due to serious disturbances on its labour market. These restrictions cannot be continued after the end of 2013 as temporary restrictions on the free movement of Romanian and Bulgarian workers must be lifted in all Member States as from 1 January 2014.
The Commission’s decision is based on a specific safeguard clause in the 2005 Treaty on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania. This clause allows Member States that have lifted restrictions on workers from Bulgaria and Romania to subsequently re-impose restrictions if there are serious disturbances on their labour market, subject to the Commission’s agreement.
Spain opened its labour market to Romanian and Bulgarian workers in 2009, but in August 2011 the Commission authorised Spain to temporarily restrict the free movement of Romanian workers until 31 December 2012 (see IP/11/960 and MEMO/11/554).
“Since the restrictions on labour market access by Romanian workers were re-introduced in mid-2011, the economic and labour market situation in Spain has further worsened. I strongly believe that free movement of workers should be promoted and that restrictions on it are not the answer to high unemployment. However, Spain’s labour market has been very badly hit by the crisis and the Commission has therefore agreed to this temporary measure,” said László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion. “We will continue to monitor closely the Spanish labour market, and will consider modifying or revoking the Decision at any time if developments on the Spanish labour market allow for it. At the same time Romania also needs to take appropriate steps to boost job creation. In order to improve the employment situation, I encourage both countries to implement the actions foreseen in the Employment and Youth packages presented by the Commission this year.”
Spain has a record level of both unemployment at 26.2%, compared to 22.7% one year before, and youth unemployment at 55.9% (figures from October 2012). Figures for the EU average are respectively 10.7% and 23.4%. As all regions of Spain are affected by high levels of unemployment, the labour market disturbance is not limited to a particular region.
The number of Romanian nationals residing in Spain is currently 913,000 (September 2012) which represents 17% of the foreign population in Spain, and is a year-on-year increase of 12,000. According to the EU Labour Force survey, Romanian nationals living in Spain are strongly affected by unemployment, with 36.4% of the (economically active) Romanians in Spain unemployed – compared to 23.3% of Spanish nationals. The employment rate among working-age (15-64) Romanian citizens is only 50.8%.
The Commission will monitor the situation through updates provided by Spain every three months on the labour market situation. The Commission reserves the right to repeal its decision to allow a restriction to the access of the labour market at any time based on developments on the Spanish labour market.
The Commission will now notify its decision to the EU’s Council of Ministers. Any Member State may request the Council to amend or annul the Commission’s decision within two working weeks.
Background
Free movement of workers is one of the fundamental freedoms of the EU Treaty. It gives EU citizens the right to freely move to another Member State to work (without needing a work permit) and to reside there for that purpose.
However, the 2005 Treaty of Accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU provides that for a transitional period of a maximum of seven years Member States have the option of imposing partial or total restrictions on access to their labour markets for workers from Bulgaria and Romania. The overall transitional period is divided into three distinct phases (“2-plus-3-plus-2”). Different conditions apply during each phase. The currentfinal third phase started on 1 January 2011 and will irrevocably end on 31 December 2013.
Any restriction of the free movement of workers constitutes a derogation from a fundamental freedom of EU law that must be allowed explicitly by EU law itself. Although the transitional arrangements in the Accession Treaty allow for such derogations, they are limited in time.
The restrictions on access for Romanian workers to the Spanish labour market until 31 December 2013 applies to all sectors and regions but do not affect Romanian nationals who were already active on the Spanish labour market on 22 July 2011.
Workers from Romania currently enjoy full rights to free movement in 16 Member States (Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden). No restrictions apply between Romania and Bulgaria.
Of the remaining 9 Member States (Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Austria and United Kingdom), several have eased conditions or simplified procedures to access the labour market in comparison to the conditions and procedures that applied to them prior to EU accession.
In general, free movement of workers has had a positive economic impact at the EU level and has produced economic growth in host countries, as shown by the Commission’s November 2011 report – Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2011 (p.274). This report highlights estimates that the impact of population flows from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania between 2004 and 2009 on the level of potential output of the EU-15 Member States was up to 0.9%.
For more information
Follow László Andor on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/LaszloAndorEU
Subscribe to the European Commission’s free e-mail newsletter on employment, social affairs and inclusion: http://ec.europa.eu/social/e-newsletter
Contacts :
Jonathan Todd (+32 2 299 41 07)
Nadège Defrère (+32 2 296 45 44)
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Editorial

We’re on our way to Britain – The Daily Mail, UK

It is so obvious to see this kind of language when you read The Daily Mail. I hardly wait to read it and see how the paper portraites this story…Are you ready????? Let´s…

A year from now up to 29m Bulgarians and Romanians will have the right to settle in Britain and claim benefits. And these gypsies in the slums of Sofia can hardly wait…

Olympic boxer Bobby George stands on an icy street in the Bulgarian shanty town where he grew up.

A cruel wind whips his dark hair as snow falls on the chaotic rows of shacks which are home to 50,000 of the European Union’s poorest inhabitants.

Plunging his freezing hands into his thin leather jacket, he says despairingly: ‘There is nothing for my gipsy people here.

 
Boxer Boris Georgiev in his home town Faculteta, a Roma gypsy town on the outskirts of Sofia. Boris (also known as Bobby George) has lived in Luton since 2009 with his wife Tina and his two young children
 
Boxer Boris Georgiev in his home town Fakulteta, a Roma gypsy town on the outskirts of Sofia. Boris (also known as Bobby George) has lived in Luton since 2007 with his wife Tina and his two young children
 
The shanty town of Fakulteta, Bulgaria. The main supermarket - the owner is himself a gipsy - has stopped all credit because of the debts racked up for unpaid groceries
 
The shanty town of Fakulteta, Bulgaria. The main supermarket – the owner is himself a gipsy – has stopped all credit because of the debts racked up for unpaid groceries
Three men ride a horse and carriage around Faculteta, Bulgaria. Many from the town have already moved to England
 
Three men ride a horse and carriage around Faculteta, Bulgaria. Many from the town have already moved to England

Their eyes are turning to England where they can have a better life. Hundreds of families want to go to the UK because they have no future in my country.’

George is lucky. Five years ago, he changed his name from Boris Georgiev and left the seedy slum of Fakulteta, on the outskirts of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, to settle in Luton, Beds, with his wife, Tina, and daughter, Gergana, now six.

They have since had another daughter, one-year-old Mari.

A couple of weeks ago he returned on a cut-price flight for Christmas and found nothing much has changed.

Growling stray dogs chase each other down alleyways, rats scamper over piles of rubbish, and children in slippers, long outgrown with their backs cut out, dodge horse-drawn gipsy carts as they run to the few shops for a 40p loaf of bread.

The Sofia bus route does not reach Fakulteta because the drivers refuse to go there, as do the rubbish collection men. At night, the place is pitched into darkness because there is no street lighting.

The Sofia bus route does not reach Fakulteta because the drivers refuse to go there, as do the rubbish collection men
 
The Sofia bus route does not reach Fakulteta because the drivers refuse to go there, as do the rubbish collection men
 
Last year, 40,000 Bulgarians and Romanians moved to the UK, joining 130,000 of their countrymen who have settled here during the past decade
 
Last year, 40,000 Bulgarians and Romanians moved to the UK, joining 130,000 of their countrymen who have settled here during the past decade

The only indication that the city authorities recognise the huge gipsy town’s existence is the electricity meter boxes bolted tightly to the tops of telegraph poles so they cannot be tampered with by residents.

The main supermarket — the owner is himself a gipsy — has stopped all credit because of the debts racked up for unpaid groceries.

No wonder that in a year’s time, when a total of 29 million Bulgarians (and Romanians) gain the right to live, work, and claim state benefits in Britain under EU ‘freedom of movement’ rules, a great many families from Fakulteta plan to decamp the 1,250 miles to the UK.

‘The gipsies have no jobs because ordinary Bulgarians do not like or trust us,’ explains Bobby George.

‘We are discriminated against as gipsy people. In Britain it is different. You treat everyone, black, white, brown or yellow, just the same. Of course, they will want to go.

 
 
Growling stray dogs are rife in Fakulteta, as children in slippers, long outgrown with their backs cut out, play in the streets
 
 
 
Growling stray dogs are rife in Fakulteta, as children in slippers, long outgrown with their backs cut out, play in the streets
 

Growling stray dogs are rife in Fakulteta, as children in slippers, long outgrown with their backs cut out, play in the streets

 
It is estimated that 2,000 children from Romania and Bulgaria are under the control of modern-day Fagins in our major cities

‘But there will be a day when your country is full up, when you cannot afford to give benefits to any more people from Europe and the rest of the world, too. They hope to get there before that moment happens.’

Bobby, a good-looking 30-year-old with a pugilist’s nose, is probably right about Britain nearing its limits.

The latest Census, published this month, reveals how mass immigration has dramatically changed our country. Since EU borders were opened up in 2004, 1,114,368 Eastern Europeans have uprooted to live in England.

Last year, 40,000 Bulgarians and Romanians moved to the UK, joining 130,000 of their countrymen who have settled here during the past decade.

But these numbers are nothing compared with the flood of migrants expected when the rules change in a little over a year’s time.

Since EU borders were opened up in 2004, 1,114,368 Eastern Europeans have uprooted to live in England
 
Since EU borders were opened up in 2004, 1,114,368 Eastern Europeans have uprooted to live in England

Until now, migrants from the two former communist nations (officially barred from working or claiming benefits in Britain until the freedom of movement rule comes in on January 1, 2014) have neatly exploited a gaping loophole in the EU rules.

It allows Bulgarians and Romanians claiming to be self-employed to get a British national insurance number and a raft of hand-outs, including housing and child benefit.

Many of the new arrivals have worked hard, cornering the market in car-wash companies, for instance.

But others are less industrious,  and include Roma gipsies who, remarkably, now sell a third of all copies of the Big Issue.

Even selling one copy a week of the magazine (created to help the British homeless) miraculously gives them self-employed status and allows them to beg with impunity outside shops and on street corners.

Bulgarian and Romanian incomers have been blamed by police in their own countries and in Britain for a massive rise in organised crime, including the trafficking of children to Britain to beg, pickpocket, milk state benefits and even enter the sex trade.

In a year's time, when a total of 29 million Bulgarians (and Romanians) gain the right to live, work, and claim state benefits in Britain under EU 'freedom of movement' rules, a great many families from Fakulteta plan to decamp the 1,250 miles to the UK
 
In a year’s time, when a total of 29 million Bulgarians (and Romanians) gain the right to live, work, and claim state benefits in Britain under EU ‘freedom of movement’ rules, a great many families from Fakulteta plan to decamp the 1,250 miles to the UK

It is estimated that 2,000 children from Romania and Bulgaria are under the control of modern-day Fagins in our major cities.

According to Scotland Yard, a skilful child thief can make up to £100,000 a year ‘working’ on the streets, buses and Tubes in London — cash that is sent back to Roma villages and towns at home.

So critical is the problem that Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister visited Britain earlier this month to meet Home Secretary Theresa May to discuss how child trafficking and other organised crimes can be controlled when the UK doors swing open yet more widely.

Meanwhile, Antoaneta Vassileva, head of Bulgaria’s National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, warns that the UK is now the EU hot-spot for Roma child pickpockets from her country — a problem that will almost certainly get worse when the rules change in a year’s time.

In Sofia, she explained to me: ‘The children are trained by their parents, or another relative, to be thieves.

 
Bobby George, with his sporting talent and determination to succeed, is proof that many migrants wish only to strive hard and provide for their families
 
Bobby George, with his sporting talent and determination to succeed, is proof that many migrants wish only to strive hard and provide for their families
 
Bobby won a bronze medal for Bulgaria as a light welterweight in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. After turning professional, he left for the UK
 
Bobby won a bronze medal for Bulgaria as a light welterweight in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games (pictured, in blue, in a preliminary bout). After turning professional, he left for the UK

They know no other life but begging and stealing. They come from Roma gipsy communities where there is no work. When a Bulgarian child is offered the chance to go to London to pickpocket, he wants to do it.’

She said the children — some aged only 11 — are trafficked into Britain by their own families or by gang-masters pretending to be their real parents.

Even if a child pickpocket is caught by police, then handed over to British social services and put into a foster home, they invariably escape back to a world of crime.

‘After one or two days they run away from foster care. The Bulgarian gang-master in England will contact the child by mobile phone and still has control over him,’ said Ms Vassileva.

 
The attitude among the poor of places such as Fakulteta is that Britain is a land where benefits flow like milk and honey is commonplace
 
The attitude among the poor of places such as Fakulteta is that Britain is a land where benefits flow like milk and honey is commonplace – even though few of these Roma people speak any English and would struggle to point to Britain on a map

‘The child will have been brainwashed and is often afraid of being beaten or deliberately deprived of food or having to sleep on the floor without a blanket if he refuses to obey. They use cruel methods to lock the child into the gang and make him work harder as a pickpocket.

‘After the child has escaped, the gang-master will meet him at a tourist landmark, maybe Big Ben which everyone knows, and move him to another big city — Manchester or Newcastle, for example — or even to mainland Europe.

‘It is difficult for the police to catch the children because they are shunted about all the time.
‘The trafficking gangs go mad when the police take a child away. If a young pickpocket is removed from the London streets for even a few days, the gang loses a lot of money.’

It is a chilling tale, but one that comes as little surprise to those on the streets of Fakulteta, the biggest gipsy enclave in Sofia. Inside the small shacks — often consisting of just one room with a bare light-bulb swinging from the ceiling where families of five or six sleep on the floor — they dream of life in Britain as their salvation.

Here, as in Romania, there is massive prejudice against gipsies. The Roma people say they want to work, but no one will give them jobs.

 
Inside the small shacks - often consisting of just one room with a bare light-bulb swinging from the ceiling where families of five or six sleep on the floor - they dream of life in Britain as their salvation
 
Inside the small shacks – often consisting of just one room with a bare light-bulb swinging from the ceiling where families of five or six sleep on the floor – they dream of life in Britain as their salvation

Instead, they are forced to beg on the streets of Sofia and other Bulgarian cities, explains Metodi Stoyanov, 49, a jobless father of sons aged 12, 16 and 18.

Metodi and his wife, Seeka, 46, live in one room with their three boys.

There is no bathroom, and the cooking stove is just inside the front door. Seeka goes out to work as a cleaner, walking miles out of the gipsy town to get an early bus across Sofia at six in the morning when the ticket collectors are not on board.

‘She cannot afford to pay the bus ticket each day. She only earns £15 a week,’ explains her husband. ‘We do not have the money to live. When I had toothache, I had to pull out the tooth myself because I cannot pay for a dentist.

‘We struggle to pay the electricity bill, and trying to buy the boys shoes to go to school is frightening when a pair costs £40.

‘We are too scared to be ill because it costs so much to see the doctor or buy medicines. If I had a heart attack, I would have to wait at home and die.

‘All we want is a normal life like the British people. I would like to go because I support Manchester United. There we would get our housing paid and child benefits. Here, we are given £30 a month by the state for our two youngest boys. It is not enough.’

The attitude that Britain is a land where benefits flow like milk and honey is commonplace — even though few of these Roma people speak any English and would struggle to point to Britain on a map.

 
'We are discriminated against as gipsy people. In Britain it is different. You treat everyone, black, white, brown or yellow, just the same. Of course, they will want to go,' said Bobby
 
We are discriminated against as gipsy people. In Britain it is different. You treat everyone, black, white, brown or yellow, just the same. Of course, they will want to go,’ said Bobby. Above, a Roma boy on a cart

Not far away in the gipsy town live 25-year-old Tsvetan Dimitrov, his 19-year-old wife, Dessislava, and their one-year-old daughter, Petra. They, too, have a one-room house, and Petra’s cot is pushed up next to the couple’s bed because there is nowhere else to put it.

They met at 13, married in a gipsy ceremony, and neither has ever worked. ‘But I could do labouring on building sites if I came to Britain,’ says Tsvetan hopefully.

‘It may not be enough, so obviously we would claim state help for our child and any others who come along. I know quite a lot about your country — you have a Queen and a famous football team: Manchester United. And I know you would look after us.’

It is much the same story at Georgi Georgiev’s equally humble home. The 30-year-old lives with his wife, Romaniana, 29, and their son and two daughters, all under 12.

When I visit, the children’s grandfather Mari, 51, says he expects hundreds of Roma gipsies from the town to leave for Britain.

‘There are people from Fakulteta already there,’ he says. ‘We know that your government helps people, even us gipsies. It is different in Bulgaria, where there is discrimination against us.’

Mari, a neatly dressed and polite man, lost his job as an office cleaner at an insurance company in Sofia after 25 years’ service just six months ago.

 
 
Until now, migrants from Bulgaira and Romania have neatly exploited a gaping loophole in the EU rules
 
Until now, migrants from Bulgaira and Romania have neatly exploited a gaping loophole in the EU rules. It allows those claiming to be self-employed to get a British national insurance number and a raft of hand-outs, including housing and child benefit

‘A new boss came and asked if I was a gipsy. I said yes, and he told me he did not want me in the building. He said he did not employ gipsy people because he did not trust them. It is the same for all of us. We have nothing because we are not given the chance.’

There is some truth in what he says. The Roma, who call themselves ‘gipsy’ proudly because it means ‘free man’ in their language, are an ignored under-class in Eastern Europe.

Back in the communist era, they were protected and were guaranteed jobs — like every adult in Bulgaria.

‘Now everything has changed,’ says Mari. ‘I have to go to the rubbish tip in Sofia to rifle through other people’s throw-outs to find something to sell so my family can eat. You can see why we like Britain where everyone is treated fairly.’

Bobby George, who is acting as my guide, nods in agreement as he listens to the conversation.

The boxer won a bronze medal for Bulgaria as a light welterweight in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. After turning professional, he left for the UK.

‘I went to Luton because that is where there are cheap flights to Bulgaria. I rent a small flat for my family and half of the £550-a-month rent is paid by housing benefit and, of course, we get the state benefits for the two children.

‘When I am not in training, I try to work. I have done labouring jobs and, officially, I am self-employed so I have a national insurance card. My wife works as a cleaner sometimes, too.’

Bobby — who boxed his way to success via the local Sofia fitness centre — is a devout Christian, like most of the Roma in Bulgaria. On Saturday night, he takes me to  the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Fakulteta for the weekly service of worship.

There is perfect singing by the small choir of women, and the visiting pastor stands up at the pulpit to deliver a sermon.

The theme is on obeying the Ten Commandments — and, particularly, the virtue of not stealing.

There is not a flicker of an eyelid in the small whitewashed church as the congregation listens intently to his words. And, at the end, the Roma people bow their heads in prayer and say Amen.

There are decent people here — and Bobby George, with his sporting talent and determination to succeed, is proof that many migrants wish only to strive hard and provide for their families.

But it would be misguided to ignore the concerns that he, and many others, voice at the impact on Britain when we swing open the doors to these hard-pressed people, so marginalised and mistrusted in their own lands.

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