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Migrants: The fairy tale of the Romanian social parasite

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Actually, Sonia * does not want to speak publicly about her situation. The Romanian studied, but works as a waitress in Germany. She wouldn't feel comfortable doing it. Irina *, another young woman, can understand that: "When you feel bad, you don't feel like talking about it," she says. Irina is currently completing her second master's degree in Germany in the field of media studies. She has been looking for a job for a long time. But she doesn't want to work as a waitress. "The media generally disregard us immigrants and only report negative things about Romania," says Irina. She has already been asked how people in Romania survive. Do they still use horse-drawn carriages? She rarely has closer contact with locals.

Even before the introduction of the free movement of workers for Romanians in the EU in 2014, German politicians pointed the finger in the direction of Southeast Europe: "Poverty immigrants", "whoever cheats flies!" A year later, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) published a review of the situation in Romania. Information on the extent of social fraud in Germany was provided by the police's crime statistics: in reality, only 141 suspects came from Romania.

The same FES study also shows that the expected onslaught of immigrants did not materialize. The number of Romanians living in Germany rose by 87,000 between November 2013 and November 2014 to 352,544. But it was never disproportionately high. In addition, contrary to the prejudice, Romanians belong to the best integrated groups of foreigners in Germany.

All studies on migration showed that the migration of workers is profitable for the destination countries, says Victoria Stoiciu from FES Romania. On the other hand, things are not looking so good in the countries of origin: They are losing employees who, moreover, often never come back.

The emigration of the working population shows its Janus head in Romania: The people know that it is financially worthwhile to work abroad. Politicians are also happy to accept migration because the money that emigrants send home exceeds foreign investment. At the same time, the disadvantage for the country is becoming more and more obvious: families separate, children stay at home alone.

Who are the immigrants?

Above all, these individual dramas find their place in public discourse, says Stoiciu. On the other hand, there is hardly any mention of the migration of the elites. Stoiciu cites the data from Eures, a European employment agency, which was collected between 2007 and 2014: the number of Romanian university graduates who found a job abroad has doubled over the period.

The brain drain is particularly evident in individual sectors: "Most of the time, doctors and IT specialists are wanted abroad," says Stoiciu. In fact, a particularly large number of doctors and nurses are emigrating. There are no figures on this in Romania, but an evaluation by the German Medical Association last year showed that most of the foreign doctors who work in Germany come from Romania.

The Romanians feel that too. In the meantime, Romania ranks last in a European comparison in terms of the number of doctors per 1,000 inhabitants. The Romanian Medical College has been warning of the migration of doctors for almost ten years: "However, no measures have been taken to stop the collapse of the health system," says the chairman of the Medical College, Vasile Astărăstoae. 26,000 doctors are needed in Romanian hospitals. Five years ago, a little more than 20,000 worked there; today there are only 13,500. In addition, the average age of a doctor in Romania is increasing continuously.

* Name changed