WASHINGTON — As anti-immigrant parties shook the European Union (E.U.) establishment this past parliamentary election cycle, some fear that the sentiments will increase toward Eastern European and Balkan member states and their nationals. The fears first arose earlier this year, as we documented this past January.
Reuters reported that the wealthier nations, such as the United Kingdom, Germany and France, worry about an influx of poorer, lower-skilled workers into their country and economy. The surprising victory of anti-E.U. and anti-immigrant parties, like the United Kingdom Independence Party led by Nigel Farage, sent political shock waves across the continent. Yet, Reuters said that potential immigrant workers from the poorer countries are not fazed by the growing sentiment against them. One former teacher in her native Bulgaria, Adriana Berindei, said:
“I don’t think this will have any impact on how we live our lives,” said Adriana Berindei, a former teacher in Romania who now works in Britain as a cleaner.
“Maybe they will propose anti-immigration measures … but even if they do they will not manage to get them approved because they do not have a majority in the European Parliament.”
Countries like Romania and Bulgaria benefit from entering the E.U., which Romania did in 2007 and Bulgaria in the same year. Romanian workers can travel freely within the E.U., as is the freedom of movement concept within E.U. borders and member states. The country saw about 30 billion euros being sent home from workers in other countries, or about $41 billion, since being admitted to the E.U. in 2007.
However, they both feel bullied by the larger economies like the United Kingdom and Germany. But, it does not help that Bulgaria has had political turmoil due to unrest and the resignation of their government within the past year.
So much for tolerance in Europe.