Romania campaign mocks UK anxiety about worker influx

Gandul website screengrab
Image caption Gandul suggests that Romania's attractions rival the UK's

A Romanian media campaign called "Why don't you come over?" is poking fun at British anxiety about a possible influx of Romanian job-seekers next year.

The news website Gandul boasts in English: "Half of our women look like Kate. The other half, like her sister."

The pro-Romania campaign is a response to British media reports that the UK government is considering negative ads about Britain to put off migrants.

UK curbs on workers from Bulgaria and Romania are set to be lifted next year.

The last Labour government agreed transitional controls on immigration from the two Balkan countries when they joined the European Union in 2007, but these expire next year.

Kate Middleton - the Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William - is not the only British royal featured in Gandul's playful campaign.

Another Gandul ad notes that Prince Charles bought a house in Romania in 2005. He is known to be a big fan of Romania's Transylvania region and its rural traditions.

Gandul also boasts that "our draft beer is less expensive than your bottled water".

Another ad refers to the hugely popular British TV show Top Gear, whose presenter praised a highway in Romania.

The campaign teases the British with the words: "We may not like Britain, but you'll love Romania".

How many will come?

Media reports say the UK government is considering restricting access to public services for future migrants, among potential responses to the easing of immigration rules.

Next year Bulgaria and Romania will enjoy the same rights as other EU member states in the European labour market.

The think tank Migration Watch, which supports tighter immigration controls, estimates that about 50,000 people from Romania and Bulgaria will come to the UK each year until 2019 and that this will have "significant consequences" for housing and jobs.

The EU's eastward enlargement in 2004 brought a huge wave of East Europeans to the UK, at a time when only two other EU countries - Sweden and the Republic of Ireland - were allowing unrestricted access to their labour markets.

Most of the new EU jobseekers in the UK were from Poland - in numbers far greater than had been predicted by the UK government at the time.

Socialist MEPs from Bulgaria and Romania have sent a letter to EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, voicing concern about possible UK moves to keep restrictions in place.

The letter, quoted in Bulgarian media, says: "We are facing the danger of citizens of the newest member states being prevented from exercising their rights guaranteed to them by EU treaties."

"What is more, we believe that a wave of hostile statements since the beginning of the year aims to stigmatise these citizens as second-class Europeans who pose a threat to the social systems, just because they want to exercise their basic rights to free movement and work."

The letter was supported by the chair of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group in the European Parliament, Hannes Swoboda.

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