Fight extremism now

By Corina Cretu

Beyond the normal and necessary public debates, the upcoming elections for the European Parliament have already led to deplorable attitudes which are in total contradiction to the principles of the European construction.


But now, more than ever before, we need citizens’ participation and solidarity in redefining and re-launching the European project, currently in a deadlock because of the economic and financial crisis which we have now been facing for more than five years.


Instead of finding solutions to problems, some politicians are searching for scapegoats.


There is nothing more counterproductive, especially in crisis situations, than having the wrong priorities.  It is pointless to only look for fault and to place the blame if you do not also look for solutions to the real problems that citizens are facing.


I can not accept that Romanians, as a people, are used as “the scapegoat” by the populist politicians of the European Union.


In many countries, Romanians - including Roma with Romanian citizenship - are blamed for all kinds of real and imaginary problems. I am not saying that Romanians are perfect, but nobody can say that about any nation’s citizens.


However, the vast majority of Romanians who settled in the EU member countries have proved they have an obvious capacity to adapt and integrate in their new society. Thus, I condemn the declarations of Nigel Farage and Geert Wilders claiming that their countries will face a Romanian crime wave once the labour market restrictions have been lifted.


Several countries applied such restrictions to Romanian citizens. And those Romanians who work legally in some EU states are being discriminated against, contrary to European norms. Politicians like Nigel Farage consider Romanians to be second-class European citizens, living like animals in an uncivilised country, about to invade the West in vast numbers to take the jobs of the locals and to take direct advantage of their health services.


I can understand some of the reasons that delayed the opening of the labour markets for Romanians - although I would be tempted to describe them more as excuses than real reasons. However, I cannot accept the human dignity and European citizenship rights of Romanians being undermined.


We cannot replace the real issues on the European public agenda with a populist agenda of some politicians. 


In politics, the price of refusing to solve the real problems is higher when it leads to lost opportunities, both in economic and social terms, and also when it comes to the commitment to European values such as democracy.


However, it is good to know that there is a solution for Romanians and other citizens from Eastern Europe which would enable them to remain in their own countries; reducing economic disparities through investments from developed countries. 


You cannot just seek to maximize the profit of investments in developing countries by keeping wages low and reducing employee’s rights while increasing working hours, and then complain that people are looking for a better life. There is too much hypocrisy here, and it leads to deep frustrations. 


Reducing these economic gaps would support the development and economic recovery of developed countries as well. 


Investments in the East can also lead to more prosperity for the countries of Western Europe. 


And this would also limit the dangerous fantasies advanced by populist politicians. 

We have the entire electoral campaign to debate this subject. It is not as easy as inventing scapegoats, but it is for our common European interest.


New Europe