Romania's Prime Minister Mihai Tudose met on Monday representatives of the Embassy of Spain in Bucharest to agree on measures to strengthen bilateral cooperation aimed at preventing and combating labour exploitation of Romanians working in Spain.
According to a Government statement, the decision was made during a meeting that took place at the Victoria Governmental Palace, with Romania's ambassador to Spain Gabriela Dancau, Minister for Romanians Everywhere Andreea Pastrirnac, Minister-delegate for European Affairs Victor Negrescu and representatives of the ministries of interior, foreign affairs, labour and social justice in attendance.
A ministerial task force will be created to deal with the cases of abuse of Romanian workers and modern slavery, under the direct coordination of the Romanian prime minister, with the Ministry for Romanians Everywhere palying the part of an integrator, according to the statement. The Spanish delegation was headed by First Secretary in charge with Consular, Administrative and Cultural Affairs with Spain's Embassy in Bucharest Tada Bastida Eizaguirre.
"We want to extend and improve cooperation with Spanish officials, taking into account the high number of Romanians living in Spain and the concrete cases signalled lately. The measures we have in mind are aimed at combating and preventing such cases, informing the persons most exposed to such risks, as well as granting assistance to victims of labour exploitation or human trafficking," Prime Minister Tudose said.
According to the Romanian Government, the community of Romanians currently residing in Spain numbers over one million, in addition to about 400,000 seasonal workers, "with the latter being the most prone to labour exploitation and human trafficking." Other measures established at the meeting are drawing up a national plan to fight against modern slavery, meant to integrate the existing strategies, as well as a national strategy against human trafficking, provided for in the governance programme, to be approved in the fourth quarter this year. Moreover, the Government has in mind the creation of a fund that for starters will have distinct lines in the budget of each of the aforementioned ministries and specifically allotted human resources, the statement adds.
According to the statement, Minister Andreea Pastirnac underscored the need for a pro-active approach of these subjects and co-opting the associations of Romanians in Spain in the joint efforts of the Romanian and Spanish officials. "At the level of the Ministry for Romanians Everywhere a specialist directorate will operate designed to secure the information-prevention component of the associations active in the diaspora, as well as in the relation with the governmental and non-governmental institutions operating in the area, from the countries where there are large communities of Romanians and where cases of modern slavery might come up," the statement reads.
At the same time, the Ministry for Romanians Everywhere will launch next week a pilot communication and information project in Botosani, Suceava and Neamt, three of the counties where most of the Romanians going to work in Spain come from. "The representatives of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Spain in Bucharest voiced their regret over the case of labour exploitation of some Romanians in Spain, adding that it was an isolated case, and it should be kept sight how well the other Romanians living in Spain have integrated themselves."