[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 22 September 2006, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Bulgarian worker fears 'abused'
Bulgarian and European Union flags
Bulgaria, along with Romania, could join the European Union in 2007
British politicians may be deliberately abusing public concern over workers coming to the UK after Bulgaria joins the EU, a Bulgarian official has said.

Former Bulgarian foreign minister Solomon Passy said it was being done to try to gain popularity.

Mr Passy told the BBC talk of a flood of Bulgarian workers coming to the UK was aimed at a domestic audience.

The government has said there will not be an "open door" policy when Bulgaria and Romania join the European Union.

'Official irritation'

Mr Passy, head of the Bulgarian parliament's foreign relations committee, said joining the EU was much more significant for Bulgarians than going abroad for work and British people had nothing to fear.

He added that Bulgaria's unemployment rate had fallen to below 10% following strong economic growth in recent years.

Mr Passy said there were currently more British people living in Bulgaria than Bulgarians in the UK.

Ray Furlong, BBC correspondent in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, said Mr Passy's comments reflect official irritation with the debate in the UK about Bulgarian workers.

'Mistaken planning'

The Home Office was unable to comment but last month Trade Secretary Alistair Darling said there needed to be a balance between the needs of the economy and demands on public services from immigration.

He was responding to a call by Conservative immigration spokesman Damian Green for restrictions to be placed on workers from the new countries joining the EU.

Mr Green said the government's "mistaken planning" when the EU expanded in 2004 had meant a migrant influx from countries such as Poland.

Home Office minister Tony McNulty revealed about 600,000 people have come to work in the UK from the eight nations which joined in 2004.

Bulgaria and Romania have signed accession treaties and are set to join the EU in 2007 or 2008.

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific