With the general elections approaching, alongside EU membership the question of immigration has also become topical. One instance that encloses both these questions simultaneously is immigration from the countries of two newer EU member states, namely Romania and Bulgaria. The restrictions on the #Workforce of these two states had been lifted as of the start of 2014, hence now they are able to work freely in the UK.
This has made the headlines for a while but hasn't emerged to become an issue of greater relevance (despite some politicians claiming that it would become one). Yet it did have an impact on the lives of some, as it highlighted the presence of these peoples, specifically their lives as immigrants who were already present.
Although both of these member states are handled equally, the fact that Romania is almost three times the size of Bulgaria in population made it more relevant in terms of being perceived by the local population as posing a greater "threat to jobs of local populace" (a greater factor in altering their lives to be precise). Due to this, many misbeliefs and myths developed, enclosed with a lot misperceptions and misunderstood concepts. In the following, and in some upcoming articles, I wish to explore these notions and tackle unfounded stereotypes or honest mistakes, so as to show the real issues facing Romanians living in London and the UK.
Romanis (Romas) are not Romanians
The first issue that needs clarification is distinguishing the Romanis (Romas) from Romanians. It is very prevalent in Western Europe to confuse these two groups of people, yet they are most certainly not the same. This confusion might have its roots in the names being so similar or maybe in the fact that there were many Romas coming from Romania to the UK. So there is a possibility that one encounters a Romani person from Romania (a Romanian Roma), but a Romanian is not Romani per se. There is a substantial Romani population in Romania, but it is an ethnic minority nevertheless (just like everywhere else).
Romanian immigration to the UK
Romanian immigration to the UK didn't start just recently, after it joined the EU, and most certainly not after the employment restrictions were alleviated. It has a long standing tradition as many Romanians migrated to the UK before WWII. Many political or other types of exiles found there home here throughout the 20th century. In fact there are Romanian Orthodox Churches in every major British city. There was an increase in the population of people who were born in Romania from the beginning of this century, but it is still not among the most preferred destinations for them. There were approximately 101000 Romanian-born people residing in the UK in 2014, which hasn't increased substantially even after the transitional cap expired. Contrary to what some political parties claimed at the time, no influx of cheap Romanian labor ensued. For example, the UKIP claimed that there would be thousands coming into the UK but the numbers have been telling us a different story, an actual decline.
The "quality of the immigrants"
Another important issue is the "quality of the immigrants", that can be defined according to many attributes. The more significant ones are the level of education and the capability/willingness to work legitimately. This is actually a crucial point and alongside other issues like the homeless immigrants (the rough-sleepers) and other related instances, it is going to be dealt with in upcoming articles.
This article was inspired from the article "Why you should know the difference between Romanians and Romani", written by Migreat.