‘UK fears over Romanians are unfair… EU needs more migrants to prosper’

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The EU’s home affairs commissioner talks to Martin Bentham in Strasbourg

One of Europe’s top officials has denounced “unfair” British concerns about Romanian and Bulgarian migrants and warned that the EU will need a further influx of people to prosper. 

Cecilia Malmström, the European Commissioner for home affairs, said it was wrong to “stigmatise” migrants from Romania and Bulgaria by raising fears about benefit tourism and rising crime. Her comments, during an interview in which she urged Britain not to quit the EU, will be seen by some as a rebuke to ministers.

They have vowed to introduce new curbs on migrants’ welfare rights in response to claims by campaigners that as many as 50,000  Romanian and Bulgarians a year could come to Britain once curbs on their right to work here are lifted next year.

In an interview at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, however, Ms Malmström said that fears of abuse were misplaced and that migrants from the two countries who travelled to Britain should not be criticised for exercising the same right to work as other EU citizens.

Asked about fears that an influx of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants might lead to more crime in Britain, she replied: “It is unfair to believe that. I don’t want to stigmatise countries and say there will be an increase in criminal activity or social tourism, people who come and live off benefits. That’s just not fair.”

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