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The UK established its first diplomatic mission in Bucharest in 1803. Formal diplomatic relations were established between the two countries in 1880.There were also close links through the Royal family in this period – Queen Maria of Romania was British by birth and a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

Romanian-UK engagement can be traced back much further. According to a 2015 article written by the then Romanian Ambassador to the UK, Dr Ion Jinga, there is evidence that the Romans used Dacian-troops from modern-day Romania in the construction of Hadrian’s Wall.[1]

Romania fought on the side of the Entente powers in the First World War, and continued to enjoy close relations with the UK until the Second World War which Romania initially entered on side of the Axis powers. The relationship between the UK and Romania became more distant during the Cold War.

However, since 1990, relations were much improved. The UK was one of the main supporters of Romania’s accession to NATO and the EU.

A Strategic Partnership between Romania and the United Kingdom was launched in 2003, and furthered after Romania’s accession to the European Union in 2007. Relations were further developed by the 2011 Joint Statement on Enhancing the Strategic Partnership between the two countries.

In February 2018, after meeting with the UK ambassador to Romania, Paul Brummell, Romania’s Vice Prime Minister, Ana Birchall, wrote that the relationship between Romania and the UK has “a solid foundation and numerous development opportunities for the future,” and that after Brexit, Romania and the United Kingdom would have to “develop a broader vision” in order to bring up-to-date their strategic partnership.[2]

Cultural exchanges between Romania and the UK are supported by institutions such as the Romanian Cultural Institute in London and the British Council in Romania, where the Council has been working since 1938, and currently has offices in Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca and Iasi.

The Prince of Wales launched ‘The Prince of Wales’s Foundation Romania’ (Fundatia Printul de Wales)’ in 2015. This is an educational charity which aims to support heritage preservation, agriculture and sustainable development in Romania.[3]

The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimate that there are 411,000 Romanians living in the UK – representing the second largest non-British national group in the UK.[4]

Statistics for British people living in Romania are based on less complete data.[5] The ONS estimated in 2017, using figures from 2011, that 521 British citizens live in Romania.

The migrant workforce from Romania has a significant role in the UK economy. More than one in six people working on housebuilding sites across Britain come from other EU countries, rising to half of site workers in London. A survey of 37,000 housebuilding workers across Britain shows 17.7% are from the EU. More than half of those come from Romania.[6] Around 95% of the 29,000 seasonal labourers who pick fruit in the UK are from the EU, with most coming from Bulgaria and Romania.[7]

7,200 Romanian students were enrolled in programmes at UK universities in 2015-16, according Universities UK. There are a further 370 students studying for UK degrees in Romania through transnational education (TNE) provision.

In 2016, the UK exported £1.8 billion of goods and services to Romania. Imports were £2.6 billion. The UK therefore had a trade deficit of around £800 million. The deficit was mainly due to trade in goods. Trade in services was broadly in balance. Romania is the 18th largest market for UK exports in the EU and 19th largest in terms of imports.

[1]     ‘History and Present: 135 Years of Diplomatic Relations between Romania and the UK’ Huffington Post, 16 April 2015

[2]     ‘Deputy PM Birchall: Romania and UK must develop, post-Brexit, a broader vision for their partnership’, Agerpres online, 13 February 2018.

[3]     See The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation

[4]     ONS, Table 2.3, Population of the UK by country of birth and nationality, Jan-Dec 2017, released 24 May 2018

[5]        See ONS Table 1, What information is there on British migrants living in Europe?: Jan 2017, and the notes in Appendix 1 for how statistics on Romania are compiled.

[6]     ‘Housebuilders issue Brexit plea as poll shows UK reliance on EU workers; Home Builders Federation says one in six builders are from EU and calls for permit system for skilled workers to build more homes and ease housing crisis’, The Guardian, 5 December 2017

[7]     ‘Brexit: British strawberry prices set to soar by 50% as fruit farms face ‘cataclysmic’ fate without EU workers’, The Independent, 22 June 2017

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