Some of the amendments proposed by UK prime minister David Cameron to the free movement of labour force raise questions about their compatibility with the principle of non-discrimination between EU citizens, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov said.
Cameron unveiled on Novemer 28 a package of proposals including plans to stop EU migrants from claiming in-work benefits, get access to social housing for four years and stop citizens from new EU entrants working in the UK until “their economies have converged more closely”, Bulgarian news agency BTA reported.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said that the same day, Mitov had spoken by phone with UK Europe minister David Lidington about the plans presented by the UK for legislative amendments and administrative measures concerning various rights of EU citizens.
“Though understanding the internal political situation in the UK, Bulgaria supports the position, expressed also by the European Commission, that the right to free movement is one of the most important individual rights of EU citizens and one of the Union’s founding principles,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Existing EU legislation provides sufficient mechanisms to curb fraud and abuse of the right to free movement, the ministry said.
Bulgaria has repeatedly expressed its willingness for a more active exchange and co-operation with the UK to prevent attempts to abuse of the social welfare system, which undermines the right to free movement, the Foreign Ministry said.
A letter has been signed between the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Bulgaria and the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on co-operation in the field of crossborder employment, service provision and enforcement of social security regulations.
“Some of today’s proposed amendments to the free movement of labour force raise certain questions as to their compatibility with the principle of non-discrimination between EU citizens.
“At the same time we understand that they are to be translated into concrete legislative and administrative measures and more accurate assessment of their compatibility with EU law will only be possible at this stage.”
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said that work force mobility has contributed greatly to the EU’s economic development.
Aumber of surveys, including British ones, about Bulgarian and Romanian nationals residing in the UK suggest that their aim is not to abuse the country’s benefit system.
The employment rate in their communities is nearly 80 per cent compared with a nationwide figure of 73 per cent.
Economic surveys in the UK suggest that EU migrants generate more revenue for the British economy than the UK spends on social services.
“Bulgaria expresses confidence that the cooperation between the two countries, including in the EU context in all its dimensions, is of mutual interest and will continue within various bilateral and multilateral formats,” the Foreign Ministry said.