Month: February 2014

Doru Costea și Ion Jinga: diplomați emblematici pentru reprezentarea României în străinătate în 2013 conform ‘Top 100 FP România’

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Logo-FP-foreign-policy-romania-300x300Dacă reverențele listei FP 100 Gânditori Globali – publicată în ediția sfârșitului de an 2013 a Foreign Policy România – merg spre personalități din intreaga lume, ediția românească adaugă, pentru al treilea an consecutiv, o listă cu peste 100 de nume din România care mișcă țara cu puterea ideilor sau a exemplului. În anul de referință 2013, în categoria ‘Relații Internaționale’, diplomații Doru-Romulus Costea și Ion Jinga s-au remarcat printr-o bună reprezentare a României în străinătate. Conform publicației: 

0-Beijing-ES-Ambasador-Doru-Romulus-Costea_24.01.2013O amplă delegație chineză condusă de însuși premierul Li Keqiang a descins la București în noiembrie pentru a discuta despre investiții în infrastructură, energie, agricultură sau IT – cuantumul invocat: 5-8 miliarde de euro. (Premierul Victor Ponta s-a felicitate și singur pentru această dovadp de “deschidere către China” – ba chiar este suspectat deja pentru “o turnură strategică către China“ -, dar trebuie să ne amintim că derularea în România a ediției din 2013 a Forumului China-CEE fusese anunțată cu un an înainte de către pe atunci premierul Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu, participant la ediția de la Varșovia a forumului.). Ambasada României de la Beijing, condusă din 2011 de către diplomatul Doru Romulus Costea, a avut mult de lucru la pregătirea marelui eveniment – și va avea și mai departe, pentru satisfacerea setei restartate acasă pentru banii chinezești. “Pentru concretizarea unor asemenea proiecte este necesară îndeplinirea simultană a unor criteria pe care le-am numit ˂cei patru C˃; corerență;  constanță; continuitate; concretețe, în prezentarea și, mai ales, în desfășurarea acțiunilor ulterioare convenirii proiectelor respective. Tradiția cooperării româno-chineze asigură un fundament solid, pe care putem însă să construim proiecte noi de cooperare; ca orice fundament, existent sa este o condiție necesară, nu și suficientă“, transmitea anul trecut acasă E.S. Doru Costea.

220px-HE_Dr_Ion_JingaUn an dificil a avut, din nou, și diplomatul Ion Jinga, Ambasadorul României în Regatul Unit al Marii Britanii și Irlandei de Nord – și, de doi ani, decan al ambasadorilor europeni la Londra. Mesajul pe care E.S. Dr Ion Jinga l-a plasat cu insistență în presa locală non-tabloidă a fost că imigranții români stabiliți în Regat sunt buni contribuabili la economia locală și că foarte mulți dintre ei se remarcă prin progesionalism, în companii sau în universități. Societatea Studenților Români de la Universitatea din York ne-a asigurat: “În contextual campaniei negative la adresa românilor, desfășurată pe tot parcursul anului 2013 de presa tabloidă și de unii politicieni din UK, Ambasadorul Ion Jinga s-a remarcat prin activitatea constantă de apărare a imaginii României în Regatul Unit și a intereselor românilor din această țară“.

SURSA: Foreign Policy România (Top 100 FP România 2013) – Coordonator Petre Munteanu

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Romanians do not recognise this thief stereotype – and neither do the British The Daily Mail has put up ‘Rudi’ as a Roma Romanian representative – let me fill in the gaps about our people, culture and economy

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Picture of Ion Jinga

After the disappointment of not seeing waves of Romanians arriving in the UK once restrictions were lifted, some tabloids have found a new eastern European bestseller: the abuse to the benefits system.

A particular case attracted my attention: the Daily Mail interviewed “Rudi”, described as “an ebullient 28 years old” who lives with his family on benefits, around Nottingham. He confessed to be “a Roma Gypsy from Romania” and before coming to the UK three years ago he had first tried his luck in eight other countries: “I made my way by pick-pocketing, thieving and other small crimes. I was put in prison or arrested by the police in Norway, Finland, Sweden, Spain, Italy, France, Austria and Germany before I arrived here.”

For the interviewer, however, Rudi was probably a highly credible person, as he convinced the journalist that he was better informed than the UK Border Agency about the number of passengers coming every day from Romania to the UK by plane, bus or car.

According to the newspaper, he said: “Your benefits system is crazy. It’s like finding a sack full of cash that has been dropped, picking it up and no one saying anything,” claiming that he left Romania “because the authorities refuse to give us jobs”. But once in Britain, he showed little interest to work, thinking instead about benefits. “He sells scrap metal or does some decorating, which has allowed him to claim social welfare.”

The fact that he has been resident in the UK for three years confirms what I have stated on several occasions, namely that people who intended to emigrate are already here, and that restrictions on the labour market have not been an obstacle for exercising the right to free movement in the EU.

As for being a “Roma Gypsy” and therefore not being able to support himself at home, in Romania every person has equal access to employment. Indeed, people should work before claiming benefits. In order to receive benefits, you should first contribute. This is only fair. We too are against the culture of “getting something for nothing”. But from his comments, it is reasonable to conclude that Rudi’s intention in no less than 10 European countries was not to work.

Romania is against any form of discrimination and many projects for Roma social inclusion have been developed in the fields of education, employment, housing and health. There are 600,000 Roma people living in Romania and more than 12 million on the continent. According to the University of Salford, in the UK alone there are about 200,000 Roma, with the biggest number coming from Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary. The government of Romania has repeatedly argued the need for a common European strategy in order to help integrate and improve the life conditions of Roma people in Europe. We have to fight stereotypes and prejudice against Roma, but also mentalities inside this community.

Romania supports and applies measures to fight abuses of any kind, and the Romanian authorities condemn any attempts to defraud the existing national systems. Abuses do not have names or nationality. They are breaches of the law which are fought against with important tools of co-operation. For instance, we routinely share information with British authorities about cases of benefit fraud and abuses, based on data received from the Romanian law enforcement.

The person interviewed by the Daily Mail is certainly not representative of Romanians living in the UK who, in their overwhelming majority, contribute substantially to the public purse and are highly valued by the local communities they live in. Nor is “the ebullient Rudi” a representative for Roma, most of whom work hard to earn their living and are not involved in criminal activities.

In the case of Romanians, “benefit tourism as such is a myth” indeed, because from 5.7 million working age benefit claimants in the UK last year, only 1,740 were Romanians, which represents 0.03% of the total claimants, or 1.45% of the Romanian community in Britain. To compare, the percentage of working age benefit claimants for the whole UK population is 9.5%. Hopefully, the measures recently adopted by the British government to fight abuses to the benefits system will encourage many people who live on benefits in this country to find jobs.

Last year, the Romanian government succeeded to create almost 100,000 new jobs and in January 2014 more than 10,000 jobs were available. But our employers are now in competition with British employers, who only last month advertised 10,367 vacancies for Romanians.

The Romanian economy is growing fast, with a 5.2% GDP growth in the final quarter of 2013 – the biggest rise in the EU – and a full-year rate of 3.5%, (the EU average growth was only 0.1%). The inflation rate at the end of 2013 was about 1% and unemployment 7% (well below the EU average of 10.7%). The industrial production in Romania increased by 7% in 2013; the second largest rise in the EU.

Wages are on the rise – not the same level as in the UK, but prices are lower in Romania, houses are more affordable, the food is organic and the sun shines for longer than in other parts of Europe.

Last week, the Financial Times called my country “an eastern European tiger”, while noting that “Romania’s performance gives grounds for optimism. Investors’ appetite for a $2bn Romanian bond issue in January – five times oversubscribed – reflects broader enthusiasm. It also shows a degree of confidence in Romania’s fiscal consolidation.”

Romania is the seventh largest market within the EU and the largest in south-eastern Europe. There is a huge potential for investment projects and bilateral economic co-operation. More than 4,000 British companies are registered in Romania with a total investment of about €4.6bn.

But growth cannot be sustained without our most valuable asset, the labour force, and therefore we certainly do not want our people leaving. With the favourable economic climate and the focus on development and investments, we expect more and more Romanians to come back.

Read article in The Guardian.

Ambassador Ion Jinga: “Romanians’ Migration to the UK: Predictions Versus Reality”

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Huffington Post (02/02/2014):

Dr Ion JingaThe question of how many Romanians will come to the UK in 2014 was a misguided and misleading topic in 2013. It continues to make headlines, I hope not for a long time. The answer depends on who you ask this question.

UKIP politicians suggested 29million Romanians (and Bulgarians) will invade the British shores. An American think tank predicted 385,000 people will migrate from Romania and Bulgaria to the UK over the next five years. Migration Watch advanced 50,000 persons a year (previously, they have said up to 70,000 a year).

A survey commissioned by the BBC suggested that less than 1% of adult Romanians could look for work in the UK, which in concrete figures gives 15-20,000 people. A report commissioned by the UK government in 2010 estimates 8,000 Romanians will come to Britain in 2014. From 8,000 to 385,000 (not to speak about 29million) it is a huge field open to speculations exploited by tabloid media and xenophobic politicians.

My comments are based only on certified data: with the first flight from Romania on 1 January only two Romanians came to the UK to take advantage of the lifting of border restrictions. According to a Sunday People investigation, airlines and travel companies based in Romania recorded either a decrease or no change in passengers flying to the UK in January 2014 following lifting of restrictions. The Consular department of our Embassy has not registered an increase in the number of services required by Romanian nationals last month, compared to the same period of 2013. And, on 27 January, prime minister David Cameron told BBC Radio 4 that immigration levels from Romania and Bulgaria has been “reasonable” since work restrictions were lifted at the start of the year.

The National Insurance Number (NINO) registrations to adult overseas entering the UK for the period 2012-2013 (fiscal year) show a decrease of 22% for Romanian citizens compared to 2011-2012 (whereas there are increases of 50% Spaniards, 44% Greeks, 43% Portuguese, 36% Hungarians and 35% Italians).

The media shapes public opinion and, as we can see, it is a clear gap between predictions, perception and reality when speaking about the immigration of Romanians to the UK. But, as the Chairman of Frontier Economics and former cabinet secretary under three prime ministers, Gus O’Donnell, pointed out in the Financial Times on 29 January, this is not a new phenomenon: “In 1978 as many as 70% of the public agreed the UK was in danger of “being swamped” by other cultures. That was at a time when net migration was zero. Today about 80% think migration is a problem for Britain, although only 30% think it is a problem in their local area. On average, they believe that about one in three people are migrants (the real figure is closer to one in seven) and overestimate the number of EU migrants claiming unemployment benefits by a factor of six.”

Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute for Social and Economic Research and former Cabinet Office chief economist, argues in an article in Huffington Post UK on 21 January that “It is not the case that migrants and British workers are just competing for the same jobs. In 2008, when migration was at its height, the number of unfilled vacancies was the highest ever recorded at 700,000.” And a report from Jonathan Wadsworth, member of the Migration Advisory Committee, shows that “there is little evidence of overall adverse effects of immigration on wages and employment for people born in the UK”.

I cannot tell how many of my compatriots came to Britain last January, as British statistics will be available only next May. As citizens of the European Union, Romanians are fully entitled to freely travel and find jobs in all 28 EU member States. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills found there were 655,000 vacancies in the UK between March and July 2013. Figures from a Romanian website that hosts more than 200 recruitment agencies shows 10,367 vacancies advertised by British employers on the website last month. But it looks like Romanians are not in a hurry to come.

York Romanian Society

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York Romanian Society

In order to support the its efforts in promoting the image and spirit of Romania in the United Kingdom, the YRS initiated today a new WordPress blog for news and opinions regarding the image of the Romanian community in the UK. Our blog will not replace our website but complement it. We look forward to your feedback at Romanian@yusu.org.

The YRS Team