Brexit: Bulgarian government ‘prepared for all possible options’
The Bulgarian government is prepared for all possible options regarding the various scenarios for Brexit, Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva told journalists in Parliament on January 18.
Zaharieva said that according to official data, there were 90 000 Bulgarians living in the UK, but unofficially, the number was much higher.
The Cabinet’s Council for European Integration had discussed the various options for action at the point of Brexit, she said.
“It is no secret that, as it has developed in the negotiations, Bulgarian citizens in the UK are obliged to re-register, that is, that was agreed in the agreement itself,” Zaharieva said.
This was why the government was increasing the staff at the embassy and a new consular office would be opened in London “to have more places at which to submit documents”.
“As to the question of mass return, there were such expectations, when British citizens voted in the referendum and decided to leave the European Union, but I have to say, somewhat sadly, that these did not materialise.”
Earlier, speaking in a television interview, Zaharieva said that all Bulgarian citizens living in the UK would be given regular residence status, even with a hard Brexit.
However, they would be required to have biometric passports and should not wait for the last minute to apply for them.
There were about 4000 UK citizens living in Bulgaria “and they will be able to register and live here – they live well here and we live well with them,” Zaharieva said.
The Foreign Ministry, together with the consulate in London, was organising information campaigns to keep Bulgarian citizens informed, she said.
She said that since the start of the Brexit talks, an inter-ministerial group had been set up by the Bulgarian government, with the participation of the all the institutions and co-ordinated by heads of directorates at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Zaharieva said that in September 2018, she had written to all her Cabinet colleagues asking them to prepare for the worst-case scenario.