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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 January 2007, 10:23 GMT
Bulgarian high hopes and dreams
NUMBER OF BRITS ABROAD
Map of Bulgaria
Bulgaria
800 full time/ 10,000 part time
Source: IPPR

Bulgaria joined the European Union on 1 January, so at the end of last year we sent Simon to assess the mood in the former Eastern Bloc nation.

The UK government is preparing to bar entry to many low-skilled workers from both Bulgaria and Romania by imposing an annual limit of 20,000 to be allowed in.

Meanwhile, thousands of British property investors are already seeking investment opportunities in the former Eastern Bloc nation.

You can watch again our special reports on Bulgarian life and the country's mix of opinions to EU accession.

BUYING PROPERTY

Building in Bulgaria
Simon visits Pamporovo, one of Bulgaria's biggest ski resorts, to find out whether holiday property there is good value.

He talks to local people and takes a tour of the resort with an estate agent from Bulgarian Dreams, which specialises in the country's property market.

All the big ski resorts in Bulgaria are getting a major facelift with new apartment blocks being built, as well as new restaurants and pistes.

Thousands of British property investors have already been sinking their money into holiday flats in ski resorts and on the coast.

CAUTIONARY TALE

Viewer Paul Robinson

There is much excitement about investing in Bulgarian property, partly in anticipation of the country joining the EU.

Property prices jumped have 19% in the last year, and 32% the previous year.

Simon caught up with Working Lunch viewer Paul Robinson, who has found buying in Bulgaria a lot trickier than he expected.

The British property investor tells his cautionary tale.

A BULGARIAN FAMILY

Bulgarian family

We spend time with a Bulgarian family to find out how they make ends meet.

The young couple with a baby live in the country's capital Sofia, with the mother staying at home and the father being a graphic designer on an average wage of 57 a week.

We ask them about their attitudes to the EU and whether it will mean anything to them to become a part of it.

BACKING RENEWABLE ENERGY

Hydropower station

Simon visits a new hydropower station in the south west of Bulgaria which is supported by the CarbonNeutral scheme in the UK.

This is one of the projects that benefits from carbon offset, a way of compensating for our carbon disoxide emissions.

Bulgaria itself is facing something of an energy crisis at the moment, so renewable power is going to have to be taken more seriously.

SETTING UP A BUSINESS

Dairy

Simon visits the William Hughes Factory, which is a British family business, near Plovdiv in the Bulgarian countryside.

The factory, which makes wire carcasses for car seats, has moved to Bulgaria mainly because of low wages and cheap land.

Simon learns how tricky it is to set up a business in Bulgaria, and what difference joining the EU will make.

HOPES AND FEARS

Bulgarian and EU flag

Simon looks into what joining the EU will mean for Bulgarian business.

As Bulgaria is most famous for its yoghurt, he visits a mountain dairy to find out what new EU measures mean for farmers.


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SEE ALSO
Country profile: Bulgaria
29 Dec 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Bulgaria
12 Dec 06 |  Country profiles
Q&A: EU enlargement
26 Sep 06 |  Europe
New EU members juggle high hopes
13 Dec 06 |  Business
Expats risking it all in Bulgaria
11 Dec 06 |  Business

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