UK Diplomat: Labor Restrictions for Bulgarians, Romanians Will Be Lifted in January 2014
The official stance of the UK government is that the labor restrictions for Bulgarians and Romanians will be lifted from January 1, 2014, according to Catherine Barber, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Sofia.
In a Friday interview for bTV, she commented on recent publications in British media expressing fears of a wave of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants to the UK.
Barber assured that the UK government would fulfill the provisions of the EU Accession Treaties of the two countries and Bulgarian and Romanian citizens will be treated equally as other European citizens.
The UK diplomat, as cited by dnevnik.bg, made clear that the preparation for the lifting of labor restrictions involved measures to protect the social security system against organized abuse.
She suggested that it was important to protect the social security system against abuse because there would always be people who strive to be professionals and others who would prefer to depend on social benefits.
Barber emphasized that the government encouraged people to work, thereby increasing employment.
"Immigration brings economic benefits for the country but we would like to attract the best and most talented," she added.
"Let us hope that Bulgarians who are already in the UK feel welcome, while those who will arrive after January 1 will feel the same way," Barber said.
Asked to comment on the negative ad campaign of the UK for Bulgarians and Romanians, she defined the materials as amusing tales of ordinary citizens, adding that the only official campaign in Bulgaria involved promotion of tourism and cultural and historical heritage.
She went on to say that over 300 000 Bulgarian tourists visited the UK each year.
The UK diplomat emphasized that UK Independence Party leader and MEP Nigel Farage, who launched the negative campaign, had no influence on the policy of the government and his party had no seats in the House of Commons.
Barber further explained that Bulgarian students in the UK would no longer need the so-called Yellow Card as of January 1, 2014.
Bulgarian Ambassador to the UK Konstantin Dimitrov explained that the idea to allow students to apply for a Yellow Card permit before arriving to the UK was being discussed, meaning that they would have the document at the beginning of the school year.
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