Britain should be grateful that Romanians and Bulgarians take jobs shunned by local workers, according to a senior minister in Bucharest.
Mariana Campeanu, Romania’s labour minister, said migrants ‘contribute greatly to GDP’ and should be welcomed for filling vacancies in agriculture and hospitality.
She said Britons living off the welfare state were refusing to take jobs in these sectors.
Mrs Campeanu told the Times her countrymen were already meeting shortfalls in key UK professions such as nursing and social care.
Restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarians working in Britain will be lifted on January 1, raising fears of a massive influx.
And last week David Cameron pledged to restrict welfare benefits on people from the two states if they come to Britain.
But Mrs Campeanu said the majority of Romanians here were economic migrants who did not come to claim benefits.
‘I do not know in depth the British social welfare system, this is an internal issue of the British government how generous it can be in its welfare system toward its citizens,’ Mrs Campeanu said.
‘This should maybe be a reason why many British people do not access the vacancies on the labour market for which Romanian citizens, for example, are going to apply.
‘If there are any vacancies, somebody will fill them, whether they are from Romania, Italy, Spain or wherever.’
The Romanian prime minister, Victor Ponta, has also demanded his countrymen are not treated as ‘second-rate citizens’ by Mr Cameron’s proposal to delay benefits for three months.
And last month the Bulgarian ambassador Konstantin Dimitrov hit out at ‘anti-Bulgarian propaganda’ from some British politicians which he said served only to agitate ‘social tension’ in the UK.
Mrs Campeanu said: ‘Taking into account the fact that Romanian citizens in the UK contribute greatly to the GDP and also that many of these people are young and well qualified, the UK should be grateful that these people have come to live there.’
During the Ask Boris programme on LBC Radio yesterday, London Mayor Boris Johnson said the benefits block could continue in the short term because of intense competition for jobs that left ‘many young Londoners who feel they are not getting a fair suck of the sauce bottle’.
Mrs Campeanu said there were staff shortages in some areas because of the EU freedom of movement policy.
‘Many doctors and nurses and other healthcare staff are coming to work in the UK and these are well-qualified personnel that will contribute highly to the welfare of the British people, at the same time depriving Romanian citizens of social assistance here,’ she added.
‘We have a deficit of 10,000 care workers and if we look at the entire medical sector, we are talking of a shortage of over 20,000 people.’
Mrs Campeanu also said Britain should be less suspicious of foreigners.
‘It is unacceptable in the 21st century that expressions of racism and xenophobia are taking place and it is more regretful that they are taking place in Great Britain,’ she insisted.
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