Friday, April 19, 2013

AFP: Britain assures Bulgaria, Romania on job access

Britain has assured Romania and Bulgaria that work restrictions on their citizens will be lifted as planned in 2014, as the easternEuropean nations battle perceptions the move will cause a wave of immigration.

Bulgaria's presidency said in a statement late Wednesday that President Rossen Plevneliev had received assurances from London that the touchy process would proceed "without any problem."

The statement came after a visit by Plevneliev to London for the funeral of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, during which he "categorically denied speculation concerning an influx of Bulgarian immigrants to other European Union countries."

Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, but Britain and other European countries restricted the new members' access to their labour markets until 2014.

The impending move has seen right-wing newspapers whipping up fears that "floods of beggars" will sweep in from two of the EU's poorest countries.

Romania has already responded to the hostile coverage with a tongue-in-cheek campaign urging Britons to "come on over" for a visit.

Immigration has shot up Britain's political agenda ahead of the work restrictions being lifted and London is hardening its stance towards migrants.

Prime Minister David Cameron in late March proposed to limit immigrants' rights to housing, unemployment and health benefits, saying those services were "something migrants earn, not an automatic right."

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