Romania’s finance minister, Eugen Teodorovici, has come in for fierce criticism following for suggesting that the rights of Romanians to live and work abroad be limited to a certain period of time.
Speaking during a debate in the Romanian parliament, Mr Teodorovici said such a move might be necessary in order to prevent western Europe becoming wealthier at the expense of the eastern part of the continent.
“It may sound restrictive, but that’s the way it is,” he said. “If a Romanian goes to Germany and keeps receiving work permits then there is little likelihood of him or her ever returning to Romania. Maybe we should limit work permits to a maximum of five years, after which you need to move on.”
Critics have pointed out that Mr Teodorovici – a member of the ruling PSD, the successor to the Communist Party which for almost 50 years prevented ordinary Romanians from leaving the country, even for holidays – appears to be unaware that European Union citizens do not need work permits in other member states.
“The right of Romanians to work in the EU was the result of long, painful and often humiliating negotiations,” said Teodor Tita, a journalist. “These rights came with reservations and restrictions, some of which were lifted only a few years ago. Now, after all the effort Romania has put in to ensuring its citizens have equal status with other Europeans, a Romanian minister wants to reinstate restrictions. It’s unthinkable. Romania is staring more and more towards the tunnel at the end of the light.”
Siegfried Muresan, a Romanian MEP, has accused Mr Teodorovici of wanting to remove one of the four fundamental pillars of the European Union: the freedom of movement.
“The minister wants to restrict the rights of Romanians to travel and work in the EU, something which should never be questioned by any politician,” he said. “Many Romanians who have moved abroad have done so to escape poverty at home. It is the job of the minister to create more opportunities for those people in Romania, not to forbid them from seeking a better life elsewhere.”
Later on November 27, Romania’s health minister Sorina Pintea called for the country’s junior doctors to be obliged to remain in the country.
“Even though we have raised their salaries many doctors still want to leave. We must find a way of obliging these doctors stay in the country for a certain number of years after graduation,” she said.
A junior doctor in Romania currently earns around 5,000 lei (1,073 euros).