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Martin Harris

Minister and Deputy Head of Mission to Russia

Part of UK in Romania

11th March 2013

Free Exchange on Free Movement

One of my followers on Twitter (@HMAMartinHarris) urged me last week to:

“please untangle the politicians heads. UK and Romania should be partners.”

I want to offer reassurance on two counts.

Firstly – the UK and Romania are partners, on a very broad range of issues. Second – the politicians are putting their heads together to keep that partnership strong and moving forward.

Tomorrow the UK’s Europe Minister, David Lidington (@DLidington) will arrive in Bucharest, one of the first Ministers from among Romania’s strategic partners to visit since the elections last December. He will be talking to Romania’s leaders about three important issues for our two countries.

One is labour restrictions. Next year Romania and the UK will become part of a single labour market, when the period of transitional labour restrictions comes to an end. This will be a milestone in our relationship, and of course it’s the cause of much comment in Romania and in the UK.

People in the UK, like in many other parts of Europe, want to be reassured that the benefits of freedom of movement for workers will not be threatened by abuses, such as people moving not to work but to access benefits and services in another Member State. That’s a general concern, not specific to particular countries or nationalities, and we need to address it with partners across Europe.

David Lidington’s visit is an opportunity to talk – for both governments to explain our respective perspectives on this issue and work out together how to address it.

But while this may be the hot topic at the moment, it is only one issue on a full agenda in our partnership. David Lidington will be meeting with British investors and exploring the options for increasing the UK’s commercial presence in Romania’s economy. There are three key facilitators for this – moving ahead with the IMF’s programme of economic reform; strengthening the judicial system; and getting EU funds to work to build infrastructure and boost growth.

The UK is ready to help on all three.

Finally, Romania and the UK share a very similar perspective for the future of the EU in Romania’s neighbourhood. The EU must not become introverted, but remain open – to Turkey, to new members from the Western Balkans and reaching out to the Republic of Moldova and other states around the Black Sea. These are huge challenges, and Romania and the UK should be at the forefront of the EU’s efforts to meet them.

So lots to discuss on a two day visit. You can follow it on our social media channels (our Facebook page and Twitter account and also my own Twitter account) Please do chip in with your own comments and reactions.

4 comments on “Free Exchange on Free Movement

  1. Dear Ambassador,

    I am a PhD student in the UK and been exposed to UK’s media coverage of Romania for a long time now. There is a difference between concern over immigration and outright prejudice and criminalization of an entire nation. We’re virtually portrayed on mass as welfare scroungers. Is this the example that Britain and indeed Europe wants Romania to emulate?
    Everyone is pointing that finger at your government. Its silence on the issue gives way to a flurry of media scaremongering attacks aimed at Romania and Bulgaria.

  2. Your Excellency, Why HM Foreign office webpage host such an online petition:


    Can you please ask Minster David Lidington to delete this petion from an offcial UK Guvernement Portal. This is a racist, anti european and antiromanian petiton.
    Please find included a letter to His Excellency Foreign Affairs Minister , Mr Hague:

    We are in Romania in a middle of a ‘ To be on not to be’ dispute, related to Romania access in the Shengen visa free area.Meanwhile, 4 EU foreign affairs Ministers wrote a letter and stated that

    ‘The EU should place greater emphasis on promoting a culture of respect for the rule of law in Member States’.

    So far, The European Union has been designed as on ‘One way only ‘ Community. We think that the time has come to think and enforce an Exit door . According with currently laws, rules and regulations, even a military dictatorship can be part of the EU .
    The only punishments that could be enforced are the right to vote and the EU funds. There is no way to exclude a Country from EU, yet.
    Some measures could be enforced to help the member states who fails to respect the rule of law .Here are our proposals.

    1 Exclude the Representatives of the respective member state from the European Parliament
    2. Cut or reduce the European funds
    3. Exclude the respective country from the Shengen free area zone, if is already there
    4. Ban on the Invitations to the Council of Europe and other EU meetings
    5. Exclude from Euro zone ( indefinite delay, if not yet there)
    6. University Diplomas issued by the Member state not to be recognized in rest of the Countries if Plagiarism not punished
    7. Ban on the right to work and restrictions in the free movement of the citizens , imposing visas.

    We are kindly ask you to do a favor and support Romania , Bulgaria in their efforts to integrate in EU

    1. From an EU funded program to budget the costs for 200 EU Consular officers, for assisting Romania to issue Shengen visas in the first 2 years and to help Romanian Border Police/Customs for a most efficient Security Control
    2. To support from EU money the costs and salaries for 100 Romanian Police officers and prosecutors to help the EU countries with large Romanian Communities and high Criminality in the first 3 years after Shengen admittance
    3. To enforce a set of EU rules , though PE decisions: the persons that have a definitive Court Punishment or the ones against whom there is a Penal Trial , to be banned in occupying public positions in any EU member states.

    best wishes and our thanks for the support of Romania in the European Union.

    Cristian Corobana

    Founder Freedom Smile NGO

    1. Dear Cristian,

      The e-petitions are an instrument offered by the British Government to the public to raise issues of concern and contribute to the wider debate. They do not have legislative power and require that a minimum of 100,000 signatures be obtained for the issue concerned to be considered for debate in the House of Commmons. You can find more about the British Government’s policy on e-petitions here:

      About your question on Schengen, the UK, while we are not a member of the Schengen area, has always supported Romania’s and Bulgaria’s accession provided all technical criteria are met. The European Parliament and the Justice and Home Affairs Council have confirmed that the relevant criteria have been met.

Comments are closed.

About Martin Harris

I am the Minister and Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Moscow. In my last job I was the Ambassador at the British Embassy in Bucharest. Previously I…

I am the Minister and Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy
in Moscow. In my last job I was the Ambassador at the British Embassy in
Bucharest. Previously I have served at the British Embassies in Kyiv
and Moscow as well as at the UK Delegation to the OSCE in Vienna.
I love music, especially opera, chamber and sacred music. I am
married to Linda MacLachlan. We have three daughters, Catriona, Tabitha
and Flora – and they have one dog Timur and two cats, Pushkin and Tolstoi.