Bulgaria is considering hiring a lobbying company to respond to the powerful anti-immigration campaign in the United Kingdom, where media and several politicians have whipped up hysteria about a supposed mass influx of Bulgarians and Romanians when labour market restrictions are lifted across the EU in January 2014.
Apart from some media in the UK that have been frothing at the mouth – and no doubt quietly hoping to boost readership – about the spectre of hordes of Bulgarians and Romanians arriving to exploit social benefits and take away jobs, politicians also apparently are fearful of losing ground to the UK Independence Party and Nigel Farage, owners of the anti-immigrant issue.
The labour market issue has been clouded with misinformation, including through calls to take steps impermissible under EU rules, such as closing borders against Bulgarians and Romanians.
When Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in January 2007, part of the treaty deal was to permit other EU member states to keep in place labour market restrictions for a transitional period until 2014.
Among the smears perpetrated about the end of this transitional period not only has been the notion that citizens of the two countries will use the opportunity to burden the benefits system, but also that a tsunami of crime will result.
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