Romanian petition goes to Gordon Brown

Romanians ask for equal rights on the UK labour market.

15 October 2008. A petition signed by 4,000 people is to be presented to Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling for the work rights of Romanians in the UK to be brought in line with other Eastern European immigrants. The petition, to be handed into 10 Downing Street on Wednesday, has gathered support form people around the world, as well as from other Eastern European nationals.

Romanians and Bulgarians are not allowed to work freely in Britain, but are restricted to certain types of work, such as fruit picking.

Nationals from there have not been granted unrestricted access to the UK labour market since the countries joined the EU at the start of 2007, unlike workers from eight former communist countries which joined the EU in 2004.

A spokeswoman for the UK Border Agency said the government would inform the EU before the end of the year if it is to maintain the restriction on Romanian and Bulgarian workers after taking advice from the Migration Advisory Committee.

An unofficial source unveiled that the Home Office seeks to reduce work restrictions on Romanians. Earlier this month, the Home Office debated the issue with public British organizations and the conclusions seem in favour of lifting the work restrictions on Romanians. However, the last decision is to be taken in November after Home Office officials visit Romania.

In 2006 and 2007 the UK government kept these restrictions and expectations are that they will remain, according to Romanian Embassy sources in London.

An EU country can impose labour restrictions for up to seven years.

In the 18 months after 1 January 2007, 40,500 Romanians and Bulgarians applied to work in the UK and 32,000 were granted permission.

Moreover, the trend shows a downturn, with just 8,205 applying in the second term of 2008, compared to 10,420 in the corresponding period of 2007, a 20% drop over a year.

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