Romanian Prime Minister Says Britain Has Nothing To Fear From End Of Visa Restrictions

The Prime Minister of Romania is "rather perplexed" by the uproar in Britain about visa restrictions.

Victor Ponta said his country had a healthy economy, was a favourite of Prince Charles, and would prefer to hang onto its own workers.

Victor Ponta said his country needs to hang onto its workers

And he invited Brits to head the other way and enjoy a beer in Bucharest.

Migration campaigners claim as many as 250,000 Romanians and Bulgarians are set to arrive in Britain. The coalition government has reportedly considered a negative advertising campaign to disuade Romanians from coming here.

Writing in The Times, Ponta said Britain could "rest assured" that Romanians will not rush to Britain when access restrictions are lifted at the end of the year.

Temporary curbs were imposed on both countries in 2005 to protect the British labour market, but they expire at the end of December and cannot be extended.

Ponta said: "Our people are, by far, our most valuable, cherished and significant resource. And we will do our utmost to

keep them in the country.

"For all the work that is to be done in this country we need every brain and every pair of hands available.

"This is why Britain can rest assured: Romania needs its workers. They will not rush to Britain come January 1 2014. They will be busy developing their own country."

The UK Government has been accused of stoking fears by refusing to provide its own estimate of the number of immigrants it expects to arrive from Romania and Bulgaria.

Ponta said he wants Romania to cease being an "emigration country" and has set in motion policies aimed at stimulating growth.

Unemployment is below the EU average and public sector wages have returned to their pre-austerity level, he said.

In the past, Mr Ponta said, countries like Spain, Italy and France were the "most inspiring" destinations for Romanians looking for work abroad due to similarities in their languages.

"If the immigration process continues, which is highly unlikely, it will definitely not focus on the UK," he said.

The prime minister added that the Prince of Wales "slipped away" to his country the day after the Queen's Jubilee celebrations - adding "Romania can't be that bad, can it?"

He said the country would be happy to welcome British people for a holiday in "the sleepy villages that Prince Charles loves so much" or for a "strong pint in the Old Town in Bucharest".