Leuthard finds Romania has modernised

Economics Minister Doris Leuthard says that fears of a huge influx of Romanians into Switzerland if a key labour agreement is extended to their country are unfounded.

This content was published on September 9, 2008 - 21:35

At the end of a two-day visit to Romania, Leuthard said the picture of a "poor" country painted by some people no longer corresponded to reality.

She said on Tuesday there were several signs for optimism, including economic growth, positive job creation, well-educated young people and a low unemployment rate.

Romanians therefore had fewer and fewer reasons to leave home as a result of the changes. In 2007, only 600 had chosen to come to Switzerland.

The director of the Swiss Business Federation (economiesuisse), Pascal Gentinetta, shared her view and praised the dynamism of Romania and its desire to make progress.

The Swiss government has proposed a contribution of SFr181 million ($161.2 million) for Romanian development, part of which would go to the Roma community to help better integration into the country.

Leuthard heard from non-governmental organisations that discrimination and segregation were part of daily life for the Roma community.

After Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union, Switzerland has to decide whether to extend the agreement it has with Brussels on the free movement of people to the two new EU members.

A nationwide vote on the issue is expected to take place in Switzerland on February 8 next year.

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