Romania opens back door for thousands of Moldovans to claim benefits in Britain
Romania has opened a backdoor EU route that will entitle hundreds of thousands of migrants from Moldova, a poor former Soviet republic, to work and claim benefits in Britain.
Published: 7:20PM BST 18 Jul 2010
Over 900,000 Moldovans with an ethnic Romanian background have applied for passports from Romania, an EU travel document that will allow them free movement into Britain.
Up to 120,000 Romanian passport applications have already been cleared and 800,000 are pending fuelling fears of a mass migration westwards from Moldova, one of Eastern Europe's poorest countries which is sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine.
Traian Basescu, Romania's president, has promised that all Moldovans, most of the country's 3.6 million population, who consider themselves Romanian should be able to “move freely both in Romania and the EU”.
He has pledged to grant 10,000 Romania citizenship requests every month from a country where the per capita GDP is equivalent to that of Sudan.
The average monthly wage in the non-EU country, where unemployment is high, is just 130 and over one million Moldovans already work abroad, mostly as illegal immigrants in Europe's black economy.
The development has alarmed other EU countries because granting citizenship is the preserve of national governments, such as Romania's, even if the bill for mass migration has to be picked up in Western Europe.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch, an anti-immigration pressure group, said: “It is astonishing that almost one million Moldovans have applied for Romanian citizenship. It's essential that Britain acts, together with her EU partners, or we will have another flood of cheap labour that would be most unwelcome in a recession.”
The problem is spreading after the EU enlarged to take in Eastern European and Balkans region countries in 2004 and 2007.
Hungary recently changed its laws to allow ethnic Hungarians throughout Eastern Europe to claim its citizenship and Bulgaria has issued more than 60,000 passports to Macedonians.
“Enlargement is progressing through the back door as we're already receiving enormous numbers of new citizens due to the citizenship policies of some member states,” a senior EU diplomat told the Sunday Times. “The overall figures are striking and soon they will equal the population of a small country.”
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