By Clive Leviev – Sawyer of The Sofia Globe
There is nothing to indicate that Bulgarians have been exploiting the social welfare system in the United Kingdom, Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev said while on an official visit to London.
The UK has taken on a firm commitment to act in line with the establishment of the European free market and observe EU citizens’ rights to the freedom of movement in the union.
This became clear after Plevneliev held a meeting with UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, the President’s office said.
“The British show an understanding towards us, displaying a good partnership attitude and very soon even the few problems which have not yet been resolved will be resolved,” Plevneliev told reporters in London.
Plevneliev highly appreciated the initiative launched by the institutions in the two countries to jointly set up a mechanism to deal with any draining of the British social system, it is was proven that this was happening.
The two sides to the mechanism will be the British Ministry of Labor and Pensions and the Bulgarian Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and the Finance Ministry.
“However, no such information and facts have been established,” Plevneliev said.
He and Clegg shared the opinion that Bulgarian nationals living in Britain are well-educated, adaptive, integrated and they contribute to the social system and the development of the British economy, Plevneliev said.
British businesses could have serious prospects for establishing partnerships with Bulgaria in IT, infrastructure and the motor industry. This emerged at a British-Bulgarian business forum which Plevneliev opened in London and which was attended by about 60 representatives of business in the two countries, the President’s office said.
The information and communication technology sector has strong foundations in Bulgaria and the region, Plevneliev said.
In the past six years, the IT industry has been one of the engines of the Bulgarian economy and has achieved an average annual growth of 10 per cent.
Moreover, Bulgaria is a regional centre in the high tech sector.
“Bulgarian companies are more ambitious, more confident and actively seek partnerships,” Plevneliev said.
Infrastructure is another promising sector in which co-operation with the British business circles can be encouraged.
“In our region politicians are under pressure to pool efforts to ensure greater cohesion and integration,” Plevneliev said.
He gave the example of 1.5 million Bulgarians who go on holidays to Greece every year and more than a million Romanian tourists that annually visit Bulgaria.
The people of South Eastern Europe no longer believe in the term “balkanization,” but consider the region as a place of peace and prosperity,” Plevneliev said.
He also focused on the potential for promoting cooperation in the car industry.
In his view, the development of the indistry in Bulgaria offers prospects for the contractors who design and work as credible partners of big world trademarks.
He said that there are research and development departments in almost all companies in the industry, which, coupled with the talented Bulgarian specialists, creates a lot of opportunities for establishing future partnerships.
The United Kingdom ranks fourth among the big investors in Bulgaria, having invested 2.5 billion euro in the 2006-2012 period. This comprises six per cent of the total amount of foreign direct investments in Bulgaria for the same period, which reach 40 billion euro invested mainly in road and railway infrastructure, multimodal transport and ecology.