Britain should be grateful that Romanians and Bulgarians will take jobs that its own workers refuse to do, a Romanian government minister has said.
Immigrants from the two countries will fill a gap in the workforce, taking on jobs in the agriculture and hospitality sectors from Britons who would rather live on benefits, Labour minister Mariana Campeanu told The Times.
She also rebutted fears of a vast influx of migrants coming to claim benefits when EU working restrictions are lifted on January 1, saying the vast majority will take on necessary jobs such as nursing and social care.
Suggesting that generous benefit payments in the UK leave thousands of low-paid jobs unfilled and attractive to migrants, Mr s Campeanu said: "I do not know in depth the British social welfare system, this is an internal issue of the British government how generous it can be in its welfare system towards its citizens.
"This should maybe be a reason why many British people do not access the vacancies on the labour market for which Romanian citizens, for example, are going to apply.
"If there are vacancies, somebody will fill them, whether they are from Romania, Italy, Spain or wherever...
"Taking into account the fact that Romanian citizens in the UK contribute greatly to the GDP and also that many of these people are young and well-qualified, the UK should be grafetul that these people have come to live there."
Mrs Campeanu said she backed Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to restrict benefits to migrants, and said she was working with the Department of Work and Pensions to crack down on fraudulent claims.
She added that the loosening of EU restrictions on movement meant that well-qualified Romanians, such as doctors and nurses, were leaving the country in droves, causing a shortage of more than 20,000 workers in the medical sector.
Yesterday London mayor Boris Johnson called for a benefits ban of up to a year and the retention of job restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians.
But Mrs Campeanu said the Conservatives should distance themselves from "racism and xenophobia".