Those Romanians and Bulgarians 141

One achievement of which I am very proud was my part in ensuring that the UK did not place restrictions on the right to free movement of the first EU Eastern European accession wave.  The arrival of so many Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, Latvians etc in the UK has been a brilliant social and cultural development and provided some support for an economy wrecked by the reckless greed of bankers.

There can be no more stark illustration of the tiny political space occupied by the major political parties and portrayed by the mainstream media as the only “serious” political opinion, than New Labour’s shrill contention that the bankers of RBS/Natwest should only be allowed 100% of salary as a bonus and not 200%.  Why not about 5% like other civil servants, which is what they are.

To return to the subject, free movement of peoples is a great thing.  I do not want governments to tell people where they can and cannot go.  It is wonderful that I can wake up tomorrow and decide to settle in Trieste or Gorzow Wielkopolski, without permission from anybody.  Don’t take it for granted, think about it – isn’t it wonderful?

My role?  I was First Secretary Political and Economic in the British Embassy in Warsaw when the question of our attitude to free movement on accession was decided, and I produced a paper on the subject.  I researched it quite assiduously, including a meeting with the five Romany Kings of Poland in the castle at Oswiecim – Auschwitz.  My conclusion was that there would be no mass migration, but many young Polish people might typically come for a few years to work and earn money to start a home back in Poland.  My paper was influential and I was much congratulated.  Incidentally, I very much underestimated how many Polish people would come, but I am unrepentant – in fact extremely happy about it.

When I first achieved serious political consciousness, in my teen years, I should have been horrified if you had told me that in my lifetime the government would defend the receipt of intelligence from torture and indefinite detention without trial, and much educated opinion would agree.  I would not have believed the government would pay for poster vans going round with signs telling immigrants to go home.  And I would not have believed that some poor Romanian chap arriving in the UK would have been hounded by reporters- to general approbation – because of his ethnicity.

The fundamental worries about Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants do have one rational basis.  More than any other EU states, Romania and Bulgaria were admitted despite the fact that they blatantly did not meet the acquis communitaire across the full range of economic and governance measures.  The decision to pretend they did was fundamentally dishonest, and that will always have future ill-effects.  Romania and Bulgaria are less developed, worse governed and therefore more prone to mass economic emigration.

While I deprecate the dishonesty of pretending they met the acquis, however I did and do support their membership of the EU.  It was the right strategic move.  An approach that said, “you do not meet the acquis, but we will admit you to membership, now let’s work out the consequences” would have had better success.  The EU’s great mistake at present is not offering a fast track to very early membership to Ukraine on a similar basis.

In a couple of decades Bulgaria and Romania will have caught up.  I expect that, because of the difficulties of the societies from which they come in terms of crime and governance, it is not unlikely that there will be a larger proportion of social problems from these new immigrants than from other recent Eastern European immigration, and doubtless we will see these trumpeted in the racist press.  But in the long run, it is another great addition to our country and increase to our own freedoms.  I must go look at the countryside of Eastern Romania.





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141 thoughts on “Those Romanians and Bulgarians

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  • BrianFujisan

    so many people around my area, are hypocrites on this subject, they shout about incomers taking jobs, benefits ect…and then they are calling in the very same – polish, turkish – tradesmen, to get odd jobs and other work done, as the cheapest option, it’s the same atitude on international afairs, they soak up all the MSM lies, and just don’t have a clue whats realy going on

  • Barni

    For the first time ever Craig I have to disagree. From first hand experience I have lost jobs, being replace by foreign workers. I have watched as the work available has dwindled away to nothing. I don’t want to seem raceist but I don’t see the influx of foreign workers has been any good for the U.K.

  • gyges

    Hi Craig

    I agree with much of what you say, indeed one of my colleagues is Russian, which I find amazing.

    Anyway, the point I want to make … I think that the aborginal nationstate should pay for the welfare provisions of any of their nationals within the EU.

    Eg, if you’re a UK pensioner that lives in Spain, the UK should pay your pension (oh, they do).

    Ok, if you’re a Romanian and you need healthcare in the UK, the Romanian gov should pay for it. If your children go to a UK school, and you’re a Latvian national, the Latvian gov should pay for it. This will remove any basis for the grievance expressed towards these people; it will also put pressue on the aboriginal country to improve the lot of their people.

    As a nett contributor to the EU it would be relatively simple to implement this policy.

    Lastly, something that you may want to address … do you think it is utterly repugnant that the UK takes the most ambitious/hardworking/educated/capable people from other parts of the EU, to the obvious detriment of these countries, so that they can contribute to the UK’s economy?

  • Alistair

    I had a Bulgarian girlfriend for several years around a decade ago. I spent a lot of time in Bulgaria at that period, partly in Sofia where she lived, partly travelling around the beautiful country.
    She had an MA; all of her Sofia friends were educated, cultured and interesting – but then, so was Sofia. Despite the obvious post-Stalinist poverty, what I saw happening was such things as small independent poetry printing presses starting up, and selling large numbers of volumes from local poets at market stalls, something I have never seen here.
    Everywhere I went I met people who were enthusiastic about the future, learning computer skills and setting up small businesses with second-hand hardware from the west.
    The place was desperately poor, especially in the countryside where Zhivkov had bulldozed all the ancient orchards to implement disastrous Soviet five-year-plans. But the people were keen to modernise and join in with the European project.
    My girlfriend was refused a visa to live here at the time, and there was no work for me there, so we drifted apart. But if she and her friends had been allowed to come here, they would have brought their culture and decency with them – and my life would have been better.
    Visit amazing places such as Koprivshtitza, Melnik and Veliko Tarnovo, rich in history. I’ve met lots of people from these places and they aren’t criminals, thieves, ‘ethnic’ unwanted foreigners. In fact, I wanted to live out there, and still do. To my delight, if I decided to go there, they’d welcome me. That’s because they aren’t a pack of racist thugs.

  • Mary

    Pro-EU campaigners are encouraging hundreds of thousands of European migrants in Britain to vote in the country’s European elections, in a bid to defeat Ukip and Eurosceptic candidates.

    Up to 450,000 Poles, as well as Britain’s sizeable diasporas of Italian, German, Spanish, Bulgarian and Romanian migrants, are being urged to vote in the May elections after UK Prime Minister David Cameron called for limits to their benefits, according to The Sunday Times.


    Ref what Gyges said. I have two Romanian friends, a couple who are both physicists, one working in nuclear medicine and the other teaching at a university. Are we depriving the Romanian people of their services? I think so. The Romanian people’s need is greater than ours.

  • Pete

    Great to see you’re blogging again Craig. In principle I agree with this post of yours, as I normally do, but in practice there’s a big problem. Volunteering at an advice centre I see a lot of our East European immigrants, and they’re evidently greatly superior on average to their English counterparts as regards their education and work ethic, and hence their employability. But that’s the problem, isn’t it? If Brits were so educated and dynamic that they all had good professional and technical jobs and there was no one left to empty the bins and wash the dishes, then by all means allow immigrants to fill those jobs. But the fact is that millions of our native population lack any skills or education whatsoever, and cannot compete even for the lowest paid jobs with East Europeans who are their superiors in every way. Do you expect them to learn Romanian and get a job there, as they now have the legal right to do? Some of them can scarcely speak their own language, or spell their own address correctly! We need to rebuild our manufacturing industry (deliberately wrecked by Thatcher and her successors) and build an education system that meets the needs of all pupils- not just the academically talented. Till then, mass immigration will create resentment among the very elements who are most likely to express themselves through mindless violence rather than politically.

  • Mary

    Saw this about Gulnara. There is a typo in the heading.

    Uzbekistan dissents break into first daughter’s house to ‘reclaim’ artefacts

    Exiled Uzbek dissidents broke into Geneva home of President Islam Karimov’s daughter, publishing images of items allegedly taken from the Uzbek national museum

    By Harriet Alexander
    05 Jan 2014

    Craig’s previous pieces refer to the house –

  • Rasvan Lalu

    After all the years spent in East Europe you still don’t understand much of the culture and reality there, don’t you ?

    ” Romania and Bulgaria are less developed, worse governed and therefore more prone to mass economic emigration”

    The news that Romanians couldn’t care less about coming to the UK still didn’t reach you.

    Maintaining convictions in striking contrast to the reality, how they call this symptom ?

  • fred

    “The news that Romanians couldn’t care less about coming to the UK still didn’t reach you. ”

    It’s estimated almost 30 Romanians have flooded into the country already, that’s over one a day since the restrictions were lifted.

  • Daniel

    The problem I have with unregulated freedom of movement as it’s constituted at present, is that the people most affected by it’s negative consequences tend to be the poorest within the most neoliberal and economically dynamic pockets of Europe. At present this happens to be London and the south east where the pressure on the wages of the lowest paid is at its greatest.

    Freedom of movement has to be aligned to a more equitable system of economic redistribution throughout the EU as whole, and this requires a proper system of planning.

    In theory, the principle of the EU and the freedom of movement that underpins it, has to be a positive thing. However, this has to be something that operates alongside a regulatory economic framework in order to create the conditions by which local and regional economic growth is nurtured throughout the EU more widely.

    As it is, London and the south east is taking a disproportionate (and unsustainable) amount of eastern European migrants and this is putting a strain on the public infrastructure as well as the ability of local councils to meet their housing needs.

  • Daniel


    Nice story, even if it was articulated by somebody with rose coloured spectacles living in a bubble. The reality is, that unlike say London and the south east where I live, the people of Sofia are not prone to the same kind of economic and social pressures that many low paid workers here face.

    To overlook or ignore these kinds of pressures, which in part are a consequence of existing distorted migratory patterns, is, frankly, akin to going through life detached from reality.

    The socioeconomic pressures that the unregulated movement of people contribute to local economies and communities in terms of undercutting existing wage levels of the unskilled and semi-skilled as well as housing provision, are particularly great in London and should not be underestimated.

    To imply, as you have done, that anybody who has these legitimate concerns are akin to a “pack of racist thugs” misses the mark completely.

  • DoNNyDarKo

    I have enjoyed freedom of movement about Europe for over 30 years already.When I lived in Greece before they were in the EEC I had to spend a day each year at the Alien Buro and Min. of Health for my residence permit and health card.Before Sweden joined I applied for my Uppehallstillstand and renewed it every 6 months.OK now its a right but it was possible before.Before Greece joined an average family could eat out twice a week.We ate out every day. Restaurants were cheap as was the food.Somebody fiddled the books so they could join both the EU and the €uro.JP Morgan was that somebody,and now the Greeks cannot afford to eat.
    Last few years I’ve visited both Bulgaria and Romania often.Both countries are run by mafia style governments.Usually the remnants or family of the old communist regime.The extremes of wealth and poverty hit you right in the face.Alongside the Audi Q8’s are the horses and carts.The EU investment money has long been pocketed by those at the top.In Timisoara the mayors son paints the half cylinder blocks that keep pedestrians away from the trams every 3 months in new colours. Pastel pink, green and blue I have seen. Windmill farms built on the flat landscapes, not turning and not connected to any grid.Sofia like Kiev sees demonstrations every week against the ruling families.Romania’s perfect agriculture (bread basket of Europe) has been replaced by terminator seeds and GM vegetables.From one day to the next, gypsies were told they could no longer use their horses and donkeys on the roads…. Remember the horse meat scandal ??? First you got their horses and now the owners are on their way.And Brussels says , you’ve had all your investment money, now its payback time.
    As I said, I’m a person that has enjoyed the freedom our EU(EEC) brought, but there are also the negative sides to it. Voting for instance.Without becoming a citizen you are only allowed to vote in local and European elections.. national elections no.In the European elections , you don’t vote for a face or a person, but a party.
    And then there are the multitude of languages,religions,customs, foods that must be respected. Cameron has been shouting about , no benefits if you don’t speak the lingo. Who will be judge ? Some of our Newspapers have problems with the language, god help immigrants.So these waves upset the domestic apple cart and overload schools, health service etc with the language anomaly.
    If we impoverish every nation that joins, we can only expect more immigration.Greece has been in for over 10 years and things are getting worse.Bulgaria is unbelievably poor and one of the only European nations accepting Syrian refugees.Prices , rent in Romania are high for most things but wages are low.The EU has perhaps succeeded in getting rid of the border posts, but other walls and divisions are popping up.
    And yes, go see the Danube delta before Canadian mine owners using cyanide kill all the wild life.

  • Techno

    There are problems with free movement of peoples that has a particular impact on Britain though:

    1) English is more widely spoken than other languages, makes Britain a more attractive country

    2) Generous welfare system compared to other countries

    2) Lack of employment rights in Britain makes it easier to fire existing workers and replace them with cheaper immigrant labour.

    Which is why I can’t agree on this subject myself.

  • Mary

    Generally a sad tale there DoNNy DarKo. You name JP Morgan as instrumental in Greece’s financial collapse. I heard it as Goldman Sachs.

    Greek Debt Crisis: How Goldman Sachs Helped Greece to Mask its True Debt

    Goldman Sachs helped the Greek government to mask the true extent of its deficit with the help of a derivatives deal that legally circumvented the EU Maastricht deficit rules. At some point the so-called cross currency swaps will mature, and swell the country’s already bloated deficit.


  • Tony0pmoc

    In theory, I wouldn’t have had a problem. I liked John Lennon too.

    In practice take a look around Oldham.

    The indigenous feel culturally swamped.

    Even 20 years ago, when I took my son to see where I grew up, I felt I was in India, and I really like India.

    My local school is 98% ethnic majority


  • guano

    I thoroughly agree with you Craig. The world is a much better place for being open. Civilisation i.e. Islam begins at Istanbul.
    But there is some comment around that these Poles etc are net contributors to the UK economy. I and a lot of other people used to be net contributors as well before the unfair competition arrived. The UK does not gain or lose by having immigrants. The policy makes it much easier for me to emigrate to civilisation in Turkey and beyond and much easier for Eastern Europeans to fill my disenchanted shoes.

    The sub-continent Muslims have radically changed the way politics are done. If you want to open a restaurant in a town high street, which you would think were begging for anyone to meet that challenge, it is now a matter of bribery and having connections.
    You can have a Muslim UKIP prospective MEP serving up racist propaganda with the best of them.

    You lot get so touchy about mentioning the not-so-politically correct side of things. Honesty doesn’t get you anywhere in this country any more. But there are places in the Islamic world where honesty is the mark of a real human being. By the time the Muslims are in charge here, in a few decades, plus ca change, you will find them pretty much indistinguishable from the incumbent citizens.

    Sounds off: ( Howls of Liberal outrage )

  • Daniel


    Leaving aside your absurd notion that the Muslims will be taking over, you do make a point that’s worth touching on – the extent to which the recent wave of immigrants contribute economically to the UK.

    Data from Eurostat indicates that around 600,000 eastern Europeans currently claim benefits including Housing Benefit. Given that in London one has to earn a gross salary of about £30,000 per annum in order for it to be cost effective to work under PAYE without having to claim for Housing Benefit, it can reasonably be assumed that there is a net cost to the exchequer as opposed to the net benefit we are constantly led to believe is the case in the liberal media.

  • Resident Dissident

    Civilisation i.e. Islam begins at Istanbul.

    When will others see you for the overt racist that you are.

  • Daniel


    I think the issue of corruption you raised in relation to Romania and Bulgaria is a very important one and shoehorns in to my first contribution above. As you imply, the reality is Europe is not a level playing field but we are being hoodwinked into believing it is.

  • Tony0pmoc


    “Civilisation i.e. Islam begins at Istanbul.”

    That was bit strong. I personally have not had a problem with Muslims, either here or in numerous Muslim countries I have visited. I also haven’t had a problem with Buddhists, or Hindus. In fact once when we were in the depths of rural Kerala, about 100 miles from Cochin, my wife and I were invited into the inner sanctum, by people who spoke virtually no English whatsover. We took off our shoes, and I turned off my camera. We were the only white people there amongst 10,000 at a Festival, and the mother’s passed their babies to us to bless. When you completely unexpectedly find yourself in this role, you have to play the part and enjoy it – well we did. We thought it was magnificent…

    But religion is not a solution. It is simply part of the problem…

    Just try and find an honest man or woman of integrity, in a position of power. I don’t care what nonsense they believe in, nor the colour of their skin…

    But I can’t take Turkey in August. The heat nearly killed me.

    All over the world, the psychopaths are in control, and there seems nothing we can do about it except to try and ignore them.

    Not easy, when their bombs are falling on you.


  • Kacper Rucinski

    As usual: brilliant. Two comments: It was politically impossible to admit Bulgaria and Romania into EU whilst openly admitting they were not meeting the standards. Law is law, and as a government you can bent it but you cannot breach it and then openly admit you are breaching it. So, while it is a strategic decision to move the EU’s eastern borders as far away from the core member states as possible, this had to be done with an ambience of lawful process.
    Second, I think it was a valid observation made by the Romanian government last year. Great Britain is not the usual migration destination for the Romanians. For linguistic reasons, Romanians usually migrate to Italy and France (and vice versa), and this is apparent throughout the European history. Poles, on the other hand, have had very strong relations with Britain for at least a hundred years now – perhaps stronger than with any other European country (except Germany)
    Third, it has never been said openly but faced by economic need for immigrant workforce, Western governments seem to have recently decided to replace Asian, Turkish, etc., migration with “white” migrants. What reasoning was behind such a decision is unclear to me, but I can safely assume such decisions have been made in more than one capital. Yes, white migrants are still beating boys, esp. during pre-election periods when parties and candidates need to channel the dissatisfaction of the society.
    That said, I want to thank you for your role in opening up Europe.

  • Conjunction

    Very glad to see you are once again causing trouble, hope you are well.

    Broadly agree with your statements. In a world where much is worrying, to my mind the EEC is very much a good thing, particularly when you think that it emerged in a region riven by conflict for centuries.

  • Tony0pmoc


    I have just read what you wrote. Thank you. That was Brilliant. You were just so honest.

    We very nearly went to Bulgaria 18 months ago to a music festival – staying in a local hotel. We had booked and paid for the tickets, then my wife read the reviews of the hotel we were going to stay in – written by an English couple – and the Mafia control…

    Whilst I reckon it would have been O.K. – We have never been put off going anywhere in the past – my wife had a nightmare – and bottled it – and said no I’m not going…

    This really surprised me – cos she is up for anything…including jumping out of an old WWII Russian plane from 10,000 feet above Cuba…

    So I said – well you cancel it….

    Under EU? regulations – we got all our money back…

    But we still haven’t been to Bulgaria.

    And I wanted to go there…

    Lived and worked with the Polish all my life.


  • Resident Dissident


    As far as I can see there are no Eurostat figures on the number of East European Benefit claimants in the UK. But there are UK Government figures and as the total is 400k for all foreigners I very much doubt the figure you provide and its provenance.

    Just because they are claiming benefits it doesn’t mean that they are all claiming Housing Benefit as you infer. In order to be entitled to Housing Benefit migrants have to have worked for 12 months uninterrupted in the UK. Many East European migrants work outside London often in seasonal agriculture.

    The facts you claim to provide are clearly just misinformation and probably a reflection of your prejudices.

  • Mary

    The hard man of Europe speaks. He must have a special department to create his petty little wheezes. Drawn up by the hideous IDS and approved by Fox I see.

    ‘David Cameron plans to strip welfare handouts from immigrants who cannot speak English.

    In a radical bid to slash Britain’s benefits bill, the Prime Minister intends to stop printing welfare paperwork in foreign languages and prevent claimants using taxpayer-funded translators at benefits offices.

    The move – which would also hit British residents who cannot speak English – was due to be announced tomorrow, but has been delayed following a row with Nick Clegg.

    Tories hope that axeing foreign-language versions of documents explaining how to claim benefits would make it harder for immigrants such as newly arrived Romanians and Bulgarians to cash in on the UK’s benefits system, encourage others already here to learn English – and save money spent on translators.

    Referring to the controversial Channel 4 programme, one Conservative aide said: ‘The Benefits Street culture must end. Period.’

    The plans were been drawn up by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith. One Tory insider said: ‘The vast majority of voters will think this idea is plain common sense. It is unreasonable to expect taxpayers to spend huge sums on translators when people should be learning to read and write English.’

    Former Tory Cabinet Minister Liam Fox also gave the scheme the thumbs-up, saying: ‘The principle is a good one but it needs to be introduced in a way that’s fair and reasonable.’

  • BrianFujisan

    TonyOpmoc…on fine form

    Great to see you back Tony…

    Alistair @ 2;40 pm..interesting… shame about your forced apart love story.

  • Summerhead

    Gyges:- I understand that currently, despite what you may have heard from the corporate media, the Tory regime and fake opposition, each member state of the EU pays for health and social security costs incurred by its citizens in other member states for the first three months. I believe that until it joined the EU, what was Czechoslovakia had a policy of providing free health care regardless of status. A report into “health tourism” by the UK regime has been quietly shelved because it found that the problem barely existed.

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