Romanian immigration 'boosts UK GDP', labour minister claims

image captionMariana Campeanu said "racism and xenophobia" in the UK was "regretful"

Romanians should be thanked for their contribution to the UK economy, the country's labour minister has said.

Mariana Campeanu told the Times newspaper that arrivals from Romania would fill vacancies when work restrictions are relaxed next year.

And she revealed she was working with Prime Minister David Cameron to tackle fraudulent benefit claimants.

Controls on Bulgarians' and Romanians' access to the labour market, in place since 2007, expire this month.

There have been warnings from some UK politicians of an influx of migrants when the EU rules are relaxed.

Boris Johnson the London mayor suggested on Tuesday that the transitional restrictions should be "extended".

But Ms 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."

She said she did not know the British welfare system "in depth" but added: "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 vacancies, somebody will fill them, whether they are from Romania, Italy, Spain or wherever."

She added that the lifting of transitional controls would deprive her country of thousands of its professionals.

"If we look at the entire medical sector, we are talking of a shortage of over 20,000 people."

UK prime minister Mr Cameron recently announced a toughening of welfare rules for EU migrants.

Ms Campeanu told the Times she backed the changes, which Mr Cameron insists are "not just aimed at Romanians and Bulgarians".

She said she was working with the UK Department of Work and Pensions on a deal to root out fraudulent claims.

But the labour minister warned: "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."

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