Asian workers are colonizing Romania, according to a false narrative circulating in the public space. In reality, foreign citizens are brought to the country to make up for the labour force shortage in Romania.
Romanianism and the eternal attacks against it
NEWS: “Business owners in the Black Sea resorts are helping their foreign employees to bring to Romania their families from Vietnam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India….It looks like a methodical plan to discreetly invade the country, a colonization that is explicitly banned by the Romanian Constitution. Since 2021, 250,000 work permits have been issued for people from outside Europe. The migrants are not exactly the poorest in their countries, considering that they can afford to invest between 5,000 and 12,000 Euro for the Romanian adventure, money with which they could buy a house back home. ….it’s the old Securitate-like scheme to fool Romanians by constantly telling them: we are a terrible country, nobody wants to come, nobody wants to stay here, don’t worry, the invasion will pass. But just by looking around, though, we see that this is false. The quarter of a million is definitely here to stay, along with their relatives.”
NARRATIVES: 1. Romania is going to be invaded by Asians, who will colonize large parts of the country. 2. Romania is much too tolerant a country, and the authorities are hiding the problems caused by the immigrants.
CONTEXT: For some time now, Romania has been faced with a considerable labour force shortage, in several sectors. Official data show that approximately one million workers would be needed to cover this shortage. The latest population census show that Romania is on a downward demographic trend, which will continue in the future. Specialists’ estimates show a constant drop until 2100. This means that the the rate of filling vacations created by those who leave the work force will also keep dropping, in the medium and long run. The main cause of this phenomenon is the massive exodus of Romanian workers abroad, cumulated with the democratic factor, which translates into low natality, lack of vocational schools to prepare skilled workers for the future, or the social one, seen in the lack of interest of the younger generation in doing manual labour, in car workshops, fabrics or in agriculture. All these factors has brought Romania into a stage where it depends on the import of labour force. It’s no longer a short-term solution, but a long-term one, and Romanian society must get used to this situation.
PURPOSE: To promote a racist and xenophobic attitude and discourse for the public opinion in Romania, to undermine people’s trust in authorities and to provoke and fuel social tension.
The Romanian Constitution and the foreign citizens’ right to work.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Obvious as it may seem, we must stress the ridiculous hypothesis of “business owners from the Black Sea resorts” organizing themselves to plan an Asian invasion of Romania. Helping their employees to reunite with their families is something to be praised, because it demonstrates their interest in the well-being of their workers. By no means we could talk about a “colonization” of the Romanian Black Sea coast or of other parts of the country.
The very definition of colonization, which means populating a conquered country or region with people brought from other territories or countries and transferring the resources or production to the conquering country, is evidence enough that we are facing a simple relocation of people which is a natural demographic phenomenon, and exactly what Romanians have done themselves, by massively choosing to migrate to western Europe. The Asian immigrants who chose to live and work in Romania are subject to the local legislation, do not take over property by force and do not abusively impose their language, culture and lifestyle on the domestic population.
Invoking article 3 of the Constitution of Romania is a nonsense. That paragraph is meant to establish the inalienable character of Romania’s territory, which means it cannot be ceded, partially or in full, to other states. It is definitely not about temporarily hosting, for humanitarian, economic or social reasons, a foreign population, which has nothing to do with colonization. The employment of foreign workers in Romania is regulated by several laws, including the Labour Code, and, in principle, entails both the employer and the employee going through several stages: getting an employment approval, getting a long-stay visa, getting a right of residence, getting a work permit. Moreover, at international level too the migration of labour force is regulated by several EU or UN conventions and treaties that Romania must abide by and which do not contradict the provisions of the Romanian Constitution.
The article we are referring to claims that 250,000 Asian immigrants have settled in Romania since 2021, but this is false. In 2021, Romania approved a contingent of 50,000 workers newly-admitted on the labour market in Romania, but only 38,000 work permits were issued. In 2022, along with the increase in the contingent of newly admitted foreign workers to 100,000, the General Immigration Inspectorate issued approximately 109,000 work permits (extensions + new approvals) . Mention should be made of the fact, though, that despite the permits, not all jobs get taken. In 2022, there were some 85,000 foreign workers officially employed in Romania , the figure accounting for all foreign employees, not just those from South and South-East Asia. Of them, more than 10,000 were Turkish citizens, some 8,000 Moldovan, 6,000 Ukrainian and approximately 3,500 Italian. Right now, workers from abroad (including Europe) that are currently working on Romanian soil are a little over 100,000 , according to data provided by authorities.
The statement regarding the Asian workers’ financial situation is deeply discriminatory, the author failing to consider the fact that most of those forced to emigrate to Europe make huge financial sacrifices in order to gather the money they need to pay for the trip, for permits and other travel documents. Similarly, the comparison between their income and that of the teachers in Romania (against the background of the strike in education started early this week) is inappropriate and unfair to the immigrants. Salaries in the private sector are established by the business owners, and have nothing to do with the salary grids in the public sector, which are established by the Government.
As regards Romanians’ tolerance for the immigrants coming to Romania for work, we don’t understand how that could be presented in a negative key, as it is basically a reason for pride and a model of social behavior. Moreover, there is no statistic or information attesting an increase in crime on Romanian territory associated with the immigrants from Asian countries. Quite the opposite, the Asian immigrants are making efforts to learn our language, to adapt to the local customs and habits, hoping for a rapid integration into Romanian society.