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No Visas for England in 2007
Jurnalul National: Should the Romanians travel to Great Britain without visas from your point of view?
Quinton Quayle: My message is very clear: we are ready to stop requesting the visas for the Romanians before the adherence to the European Union. We hope this will happen in the spring of 2007. First, we shall take care of the problem of the illegal immigration from Romania to Great Britain. We are still having problems, even though they are less. Here are some examples: in 2002, 1,000 immigrants defected, 500 in 2003, and 250 last year. The tendencies are positive, but we still have some work to do. However, we have to say most of the Romanians abide by the laws and we didnât have any problems with them.
How low should the number of the defections get?
Hard to say. I think less than 100 people per year. .
Mistakes in London
How do you think the visasâ regime would have looked like without the scandal of the illegally approved visas in Bucharest and Sofia?
I donât think this has anything to do with it. The problems were more in London than in Bucharest. The problem with the ECAA (European Community Association Agreement - a visa given to the ones that want to settle in the Great Britain and start their own business) is hard to explain now. The formula wasnât controlled well and it has been exploited by delinquents. We changed the method and the papers for this kind of visa are verified in Bucharest now.
You have recently started an advertising campaign for diminishing the phenomenon of the illegal migration. What results do you expect?
It is still too early to give an answer. I have personally gone in the country, taken part in press conferences and talked to the police officers directly. We expect the results of the "You can never walk away from your shadow" campaign to appear in time.
Who finances this campaign?
The British Government, together with the Organization of World Immigration.
Great Britain is part of the very small group of countries that didnât request long transition periods for the workers from the Eastern European states that have adhered to the EU last year. Will the same treatment be valid for the Romanians and Bulgarians after the 1st of January 2007?
Frankly, I donât know, because the decision hasnât been taken, but I can tell you Great Britain is part of a very small group of states members of the EU that had given work permits immediately after the adherence of the ten states last year. We have been as open for the workers as we have been for the visitors. We applied a pretty liberal policy. I repeat, there is still a decision to be taken in the case of Romania and Bulgaria, because the date of the adherence isnât set either.
When will you be able to give me an answer?
Next year, I think. The situation should be clearer regarding the adherence date. I hope this will happen in 2007. It depends on Romaniaâs performances.
Are the Romanians the greatest problem of the Home Office?
Not at all! I donât have a complete list in my mind right now, but I know Romania isnât a country with so many problems. Other countries in Africa and Asia raise much bigger migration problems.
What are the cooperation measures between Bucharest and London?
I am very proud that Great Britain has approximately 15 advisers that work for the Romanian government in the process of the adherence to the EU. It is an enormous effort from the Great Britain, a practical and political one. We have three advisers that have already involved in the fight against corruption: one is at Cotroceniâ¦I am not saying there are any corruption problems here (he laughs), who is responsible for the global strategy, one is at the Police and the other at the Customs. There is a major progress at the Police. We have already established an internal department, where the officers have to take the "integrity test". Unfortunately, there hasnât been the same progress at the Customs. Here, the corruption mechanisms are older and harder to fight against. I am more optimistic now, in comparison to 2004, and I think the President and the present Government are sincere about the fight against corruption, even though the results are few.
The ones before, werenât they sincere?
(He laughs) You said itâ¦I am a diplomat and I donât comment!
How do the bureaucracy and the corruption get along with the adherence process?
There are three big problems that have an effect on the business environment in Romania: the transparency, meaning the fight against corruption, the efficiency, which is a more accessible and simpler bureaucracy, and the certitude. The British businesspersons frequently tell me the taxation system is changing too often. I am not saying the present status of the business environment is bad, but it can be improved.
Knowing the steps of Romania in the negotiations for the adherence, is the 1st of January 2007 still a realistic date?
It can be. We are waiting for the report of the Commission on the 25th of October ad the decision regarding the date will be taken afterwards. I believe it will be a balanced report, which will show a significant progress in certain areas (competition, for example) and a slower progress for other areas. As for the Romanian citizens, I believe that, on one hand, they are very optimistic about the adherence to the EU, but, on the other hand, they donât understand the implications of this thing. The general knowledge about the Union is at a low level.
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