Bulgarian Govt Assures UK over Fears of ‘Benefit Tourism’

Politics » BULGARIA IN EU | September 23, 2013, Monday // 16:07
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Govt Assures UK over Fears of ‘Benefit Tourism’ Photo by EPA/BGNES

The Bulgarian government has submitted to the UK Home Office its argumentation as to why there are no grounds for a feared influx of immigrants into Great Britain.

In the document seen by the Observer, the Bulgarian side attempts to outline the various ways in which Britain would actually benefit from the new labor regime, such as the demand in the farming sector, where locals are often reluctant to work due to its intensity and low wages. This gap will be filled by seasonal workers from Bulgaria and Romania.

As we draw closer to 2014, when the UK will lift its labor restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians, the debate for the pros and cons of this move carries on. Some British parliamentarians have voiced their concerns of possible “benefit tourism”, where citizens of the two Balkan countries will come solely to exploit the local welfare system.

The Bulgarian government is also convinced that its citizens would not flood the UK in search of social benefits. To back its point, the report uses examples of other EU countries, where Bulgarians have had free access since the country’s EU accession, but have not abused or overburdened the public services. Statistical data on the considerably higher share of British eligible benefit-recipients as opposed to non-UK nationals claiming benefits is also used to play down the fears.

Bulgaria expresses its willingness to cooperate closely with UK authorities in tackling frauds and other possible crimes. The report acknowledges that joint patrol efforts in the past have been very productive and should be fostered in the future as well.


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Tags: immigration, Bulgarian, Romanian, Great Britain, 2014, labor restrictions, seasonal workers
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