Yesterday, I got my new residency permit for Romania. Things have certainly changed. In the space of two years I have now had (and reported on) three entirely different documents which allow me to remain here. The first was a kind of rubbishy handwritten passport thing. The process to get this document was both expensive and baffling.
This document lasted a few months before being superseded by a fancy hi-tech card that had to be issued in Germany. Once again this was not exactly cheap. In fact by the time I'd got that one, I'd spent somewhere in the order of €200 in total on various documents enabling me to live here (and that doesn't include the money it cost me to set up a company which gave me legal permission to even start applying).
But now things have changed. Out has gone the German-issued laminated card, and in has come some other official looking large scale piece of paper. Because now, of course, Romania is in the EU, and my ability to stay here is determined by that new status. (Romanians can't stay in the UK longer than 3 months, but fortunately for me the Romanian state chooses not to reciprocate - though I would quite understand and even applaud them if they did). Anyway, the new piece of paper, with all the documentation and stuff that was needed to get it, cost me a sum total of 4 Lei. That's approximately €1.20. That sum still involved two different receipts of 1 and 3 Lei each from two different offices in two different parts of the town, with associated queueing, but let's not quibble about that.
The only downside of the whole thing is that while the card was very convenient and easy to carry around with me, this new document isn't, and if I were to stuff it in my wallet it would disintegrate within a couple of months, necessitating a replacement. And of course, being British, I don't possess an ID card. I don't fancy carrying around my passport all day every day, so will have to come up with some system to cope with the Romanian need for people to have official ID on their persons at all time. Hopefully my driving licence will do the trick.
Anyway, I thought you'd all be glad to know of the advantages of EU membership for me. It's not all strict legislation and baffling regulations you know.