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By Philippe Legrain 2 COMMENTS

Happy New Year!

It is a particularly happy day for the 30 million Bulgarians and Romanians who today join the European Union. Welcome back to the European club.

Unfortunately, the British government, which wisely allowed the citizens of Poland and the 7 other ex-communist countries that joined the EU in 2004 to come work in this country, has bowed to anti-immigration scaremongering and imposed restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian immigration.

But, just as with the Poles and other East Europeans who have come work here in the past 2 years, Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants would be good for Britain, doing jobs that Britons can’t or won’t do, and helping the economy to continue growing faster for longer without sparking inflation or raising unemployment, and thus boosting everyone’s living standards.

I was interviewed about this on BBC1’s Breakfast news show on 31 December. Sorry that the image quality of the first 15 seconds of the clip is very poor; I’ll try to sort it out ASAP. Thanks

Posted 01 Jan 2007 in Blog, Media
  1. Niels Andeweg says:

    Thank you for posting this YouTube video of your latest TV appearance; let’s just say I forgot to wake up yesterday morning…

  2. Michele says:

    I saw you on a London news programme during which I thought you hectored the presenter and the other guest a little. What I find a tiny bit annoying is your Panglossian attitude to migration. I am the child of migrants and a migrant myself so I know when I am treading on thin ice. Alas, the reasons that my father came to Britain are fast disappearing. It may well be a liberal society but it is no longer strong or safe and London’s inhabitants, an increasingly polyglot shower, display few of the traditional British virtues, having no shared inheritance and few cultural bonds. Having returned to London from Italy two years ago I found the city utterly changed – more cosmopolitan, perhaps, but also less efficient, more crowded, more dangerous, more expensive and more impersonal than ever. You suggested that other countries in Europe are more crowded, that’s as may be but having a crowded city or country is not in itself an attractive proposition. You stated that although more densely populated, Holland has a more efficient infrastructure. Having spent days sitting in traffic on frequent trips to Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague on business I beg to differ. You seem to subscribe to the creed that economic growth is desirable even if that growth is generated by the expedient of packing more and more bodies into an area of fixed dimensions. You seem to deny the poverty of a society where queuing for basic things has become both a necessity and a time consuming chore, particularly when one’s fellow citizens have not the most basic understanding of the concept of queuing and who believe that the fittest survive and the devil take the hindmost. Martin Wolf advocated balance in his review of your book – which I hope to read as I’d like to know how you explain the protectionism of US government which professes to advocate globalisation but slaps tariffs on steel, blocks takeovers of ports and jails British on-line gaming executives when it suits it to do so. I am, I confess confused as to why the UK should be the only country in the world to benefit from porous borders and an apparent willingness to sell everything off. You may persuade me of the benefits of globalisation, I am prepared to convert, but you will also have to argue more forcefully the case for total reciprocity in trade, commerce, transport, culture, religious belief and freedom from corruption with every other country with which we have contact.

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