No room for Bulgarians and Romanians?

After what many consider showing true leadership in Europe by opening their doors to the workers from the 10 accession states in 2004, it seems both Great Britain and Ireland (Sweden was the only other EU country) are considering imposing restrictions on people from the last two countries to join the EU under the Nice Treaty, Bulgaria and Romania, due to join the EU at the beginning of 2007.

This even though all restrictions will have to be rescinded by the end of 2010 and Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Finland have since joined the list of open labour market countries within the original EU 15. Also, evidence suggests workers from these countries are more likely to travel to Italy, Spain and Greece so it’s obvious other factors are at play.

It seems the main reason why the Irish Republic seems to be getting cold feet is simple: an election is just around the corner and despite over a quarter of a million PPS numbers being handed out to East Europeans from the original 10 new-member countries with relatively little bother it seems the government is running scared of any potential Bulgarian-Romanian influx having an adverse effect on its re-election chances.

Despite the booming economy, the surging tax returns and the full employment it seems the argument that Irish workers will or are losing out still has traction – the clearest evidence being Labour’s playing of “the foreigner is displacing me from my job” card when party leader Pat Rabbitte reminded the nation that there are 40 million Poles.

Shane Coleman in the Sunday Tribune raises the morality of such a decision, pointing out that Ireland has exported millions of its people over the last 150 years – including to EU countries.

“Now we have an opportunity to balance the books a little for two countries that have struggled badly during the 20th century. Do we really want to close the door to Bulgaria, a country that six decades ago – despite being allied with the Axis powers – heroically refused to hand over the 50,000 Jews living inside its borders to the Nazis? That gesture alone surely warrants that we extend the hand of friendship…”

“Sixty years ago, at the height of German efforts to deport Bulgarian Jews to concentration camps, a member of the Bulgarian parliament, Todor Kojukharov, argued: “The only moral capital a small nation has is to be a righteous nation.” In relation to Bulgarian and Romanian workers, it’s not too late for us to be a righteous nation.”

  • Ivan

    The only extremist is Harry.I don’t think he is Irish at all.

  • Brian Boru

    “Only 15-20 years ago Ireland together wit Portugal and Spain were caried on the back of EU. Not to mention 50 years ago London and the rest of Britain were full of desperate Irish immigrants looking for any jobs. Now Ireland is prosperous and comfortable place to live and I think Irish people deserve every bit of it. But please don’t forget how it all started.”

    To be fair the Irish already had the right to go to Britain under the Ireland Act 1949, so the EU has nothing to do with it. And the vast, vast throng of immigrants post-entry were to the US, not the UK. The 1950’s were the height of the 20th century mass-exodus to the UK. So the EU should not be brought into the immigration debate. There are 420,000 non-nationals in Ireland so calling us “ethnically-pure” as Crataegus is doing is just being plain daft.

    “If people do not want free movement of Labour them, as George says, campaign to leave the Union. Ireland can then remain ethnically pure (whatever that construct may be) rain swept in isolation against the western sea. Over the years how many millions Irish has Britain absorbed or commonwealth countries or the USA? How many have gone to far off fields, certainly more than 1 million.”

    How many millions of British has America taken in? Same with Spaniards, Hispanics etc.? But do you see these countries opening the floodgates? They are not committing to open-doors to Romania and Bulgaria, and Britain and Hungary have already announced restrictions. So that argument doesn’t wash.

  • lib2016

    Big changes in the travel arrangements with Britain are simply not going to happen as it would open up far too complicated a can of worms. Watch what happens if the Brits introduce identity cards if you don’t believe me.

    The future direction of Irish emigration policy depends largely on the British. Strand three is already a reality.

  • Harry

    All the more reason to kick the british off our island. In every aspect of our lives their presence is a damaging and weakening influence.

  • lib2016


    If you are posting in reply to my reference to Strand 3 of the Agreement then British withdrawal when it happens will still leave very close ties between Britain and Ireland.

    That is one of the purposes of the Agreement, meant presumably both as reassurance for unionists and as recognition of one of the facts of life.

  • Ivan

    Let me refresh you Brian Boru
    Businesses call for open-door policy for new EU
    August 30, 2006THE UK’s leading business chiefs today called on the Government to allow “unlimited immigration” from new EU countries.

    The Business for New Europe Group (BNEG) said an “open door” policy should be extended to people from Romania and Bulgaria, which would be likely to result in thousands of migrants heading to Britain.

    The group is lead by bosses from firms such as Sainsbury’s and Centrica, which owns Scottish Gas, and investment bank Merrill Lynch.

    After the last EU expansion in 2004, hundreds of thousands of Poles headed to the UK – many more than the Government expected – to live and work in cities such as Edinburgh.

    By the end of June, a total of 447,000 immigrants from the eight former Communist countries which joined the EU in May 2004 had applied to the Government’s worker registration scheme.

    Research had previously estimated that annual applications from the so-called A8 countries would be no more than 13,000.

    In a letter sent to the Government, five of the BNEG’s advisory panel have called on Westminster politicians to ignore calls for tighter immigration controls.

    The group’s statement will create fresh problems for the Government, which is moving towards controls on immigration in the face of pressure from the Conservative Party and the tabloid press. The BNEG’s statement said: “If Bulgaria and Romania join the EU at the beginning of next year, the UK should continue with its open-door policy.

    “A so-called pause in migration from these countries would be tantamount to a reversal of policy and could work against Britain’s interests.”

    “The simple fact is that workers from other European countries come to the UK because there are jobs,” the business leaders said.

    “We believe that in reaching its decision, the UK Government should be guided both by economic reason and by recent historical experience.”

    Last week, Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said the Government had to learn the lesson of the “unprecedented numbers” who arrived in the UK from 2004 onwards.
    Nearly two-thirds have come from Poland, helping contribute to the £2.54 billion generated for the economy every year by eastern European immigrants.

    Alistair Darling, the Edinburgh MP and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, recently said immigration from Romania and Bulgaria would be “properly controlled” if the two countries join the EU next year.

    Ed Balls, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: “We’ve seen some real contributions to our labour market from, for example, young Polish workers coming to meet skills shortages in Britain.”

    A spokeswoman for the Home Office said a decision on the “level of access” workers from Romania and Bulgaria would have to the labour market will be made after the European Council meets in October.

    The business community is split on the issue, with the British Chamber of Commerce warning that unemployment could rise.

    Director general David Frost said: “We have seen unemployment rise in the UK and clearly we don’t want to be in a position where we are seeing migrant labour coming in and getting the jobs and supporting the great number of local people who have not got jobs.”

    Alan Roden

  • Ivan

    And another one,just to make sure you wake up and see life beyond the Sun…
    Hungary’s Business Wants Bulgarian, Romanian Migrants In

    On EU Doorstep: 8 September 2006, Friday.

    Hungary’s business has voiced strong support for opening the labour market for migrants from the other EU member states, including hopefuls Bulgaria and Romania.

    Many Hungarian companies depend on foreign well-qualified labour force in order to implement the rigorous economic plan of the government, reports the Romanian Jurnalul National, citing Hungarian media report.

    “Hungarian businessmen believe “less pretentious” East-European workers would help overcome economic problems in the country”, the article says.

    The proponents of the open door policy were recently joined by the smallest right-wing party in Hungary’s ruling coalition. The Union of Free Democrats protested against what they called the government’s decision to enforce the same “populist” restrictions they suffered when they joined the bloc.

    The report comes just days after the Hungarian government officially announced plans to limit the inflow of labour from Romania and Bulgaria for the first two years after

  • Harry

    There is no harm having ‘close ties’ between ireland and britain. The question is one of control and of empowerment. As things stand, the Irish are weak. They are weak in their culture, in their political and military influence over the island and in the control of their economic lives. They also suffer from weak leadership, a leadership which has been overbearing since independence and which has used emigration as an ‘economic policy’ for millions for decades. The same kind of leadership of the same party (FF) oversaw the demise of gaelic culture since independence rather than allow such culture give rise to a republicanism that might be a challenge to them. This same leadership is now overseeing the definitive re-orienting of irish culture towards anglo-americanism and back towards a concept of ireland within ‘the british isles’. They are using extreme levels of immigration to ensure this as well as to fulfil their economic aims.

    No people in europe is as poorly served by their ‘leadership’ as the irish people nor would any country in europe allow such dramatic changes to their demographic make-up over such a short period of time. Our ‘leaders’ will depower us, not empower us.

    The british presence on this island is at the root of these things.

  • Crataegus


    You seem to suffer ….a sort of ‘colonised’ self-contempt.

    I must confess that amused. One of those moments that makes Slugger worthwhile. As I have said before; born Germany, spent early years in India with German Grandmother (in case you leap to some colonial Raj conclusion), have lived in Dublin, Belfast, Paris and London as well as a few other places, I can get up and go whenever and virtually wherever I want to. So what on earth is this nonsense about being colonised? I have a wider family of very diverse backgrounds and your concepts have absolutely no salience with me.

    I don’t even think in terms of being colonised.

    You are definitely well off the mark.

    Travel more, go live abroad for a few years and widen your horizons; give yourself a treat and not everything bad is the fault of the British, just some.

    I wonder what percentage of the UK population is of non UK origin. I wonder what percentage is of Irish origin?

    Ireland free and for once prosperous and now some see it threatened by its own success. There is an irony in this. Proves God has a rye sense of humour.

    As things stand, the Irish are weak.

    That’s just not true, you should have a lot more confidence in yourself. Stop beating yourself up, its painful to read!!

  • lib2016


    In the long run people get the leadership they deserve. People voted for Paisley, Adams, Bertie and the rest.

    They may be right or wrong but until it’s proved otherwise I’ll believe in mass democracy, even in it’s present distorted form.

    A Chinese leader famously commented that it was too early to decide on whether the French Revolution was a success. He was right IMHO.

  • George

    once/if Romania and Bulgaria join the EU at the start of 2007 all 26 other members will have to all freedom of movement by the end of 2010.

    You are peddling some myth that they have only closed doors in front of them. They don’t.

    Are you advocating we spend the next year or two putting in place restrictions simply to remove them again at the end of 2010? The only people that will benefit is the political party that gets the votes for that piece of shorttermism.

    You talk of 450,000 non-nationals.

    The majority of non-nationals in Ireland are, as mentioned above, British. The spectre of British immigrants, of which there are more every day, crowding our schools and hospitals isn’t ever mentioned.

    The majority of people applying of non-nationals for Irish citizenship are …… Americans.

    Every plane that lands with educated, young, motivated immigrants strengthens the Republic and brings us towards where we should want to be, a beacon of tolerance, innovation and modernity.

    We tied our future to Europe. I for one think it has been good to us. Soon there will be 26 other countries I can work in without ever having to worry about being an illegal.

  • Harry

    I’m afraid most of you are so busy imitating other countries thinking this is what it means to be ‘advanced’ and worrying what other countries think of you that you don’t know what real strength is.

    You country is undergoing the greatest levels of migration seen in the modern history of any european country and you are so mired in denial and denigration of your own culture that you think it’s great altogether. And not a word should be said about it.

    Even outside of cultural considerations, on purely pragmatic grounds what is occurring is insane.

    You are the chumps of forces more powerful than you.

  • Crataegus


    Do you think the Polish have a culture?

    If yes have a look at Polish History to see how sturdy culture can be!