Romania in London
Îmi pare bine! Nice to meet you!
Romanian migration to the UK saw a boom following Romania’s entry into the European Union in 2007. Northern boroughs have primarily seen an influx of Romanians in London, notably Barnet, Enfield and Waltham Forest. The Romanian group is keen to explore the country’s food shops, restaurants and hang outs, particularly in Walthamstow, Haringey and Islington.
Famous faces of Romanian origin in London include Paul Neagu whose works can be seen at the Tate Britain, sculptor Constantin Brâncuși (who is featured in the Tate Modern) and ballerina Alina Cojocaru.
However, there are also several oameni de afaceri –businessmen – who have a notable presence in the London corporate scene. Sir George Iacobescu CBE is one of the most successful Romanian businessmen in the world, having worked in Canada, USA and is currently the Chairman and CEO of Canary Wharf Group. A civil and industrial engineer, Iacobescu has worked on numerous iconic landmarks, including the World Financial Centre and part of Merrill Lynch headquarters, and the Olympia Centre in Chicago.
Additionally, Nicolae Ratiu is the son of former Romanian politician Ion Ratiu, and is currently the Managing Director of Regent House Properties Ltd, as well as the Chairman of The Ratiu Family Charitable Foundation. The Foundation, established in London in 1979, aims to “to promote and support projects which further education and research in the culture and history of Romania” and offers grants for entrepreneurs, students and various other innovative scientific, artistic, cultural, political, environmental and historical projects. The Foundation also deals with humanitarian issues for Romanian immigrants, such as elderly care and preventing human trafficking. Ratiu has further been an important influence and promoter of cultural events such as the Romanian Film Festival and Transilvania Fest, an agricultural festival.
So yes, there is more to UK Romanians than the Cheeky Girls. The augmentation of food shops, restaurants and cafes, artworks, business leaders, entertainers and the Romanian workforce means that London, the UK and European ties remain as diverse as ever:
“I certainly don’t believe that the EU will turn us all into a single amorphous lump, a kind of super-state with similar characters. Just because of the separate languages we will remain different, and thank God for that! That’s what makes Europe so much more interesting than America” – Nicolae Ratiu