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Europe: Third of Romanians and Bulgarians consider working abroad

22 April 2013

Following fears of a mass influx of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants to the rest of Europe following the lifting of the work restriction for citizens of these countries planned in January 2014. The BBC Newsnight programme has conducted a poll to see what their real travel plans might be.

When asked whether, in the past five years, they had considered moving to live and work in another EU member state, 33% of the 1,101 Romanians polled said yes, 67% said no. Of the 1,014 people questioned in Bulgaria - 37% said yes, 63% said no.

When all of those polled were asked to pick their first choice of EU country to work in, in 2014, 26% of Romanians opted for the UK, 25% for Italy 18% for Germany, 12% for Spain and 19% for other EU States. Whereas 31% of Bulgarians favoured Germany, 24% the UK, 12% Spain 3% Italy and 30% other EU States.

To get a clearer picture, the BBC asked those who had said they were planning to head to the UK whether they had made any concrete plans to move. 2.8% of the Bulgarians had started to look for a job with a recruitment agency and 0.3% of the Romanians. And 1.4% of the Bulgarians and 0.7% of the Romanians had begun to look for work without the aid of a recruitment agency.

Many of the people who came to the UK from Poland and other eastern European countries did so without having a job waiting for them. However, the results of the Newsnight surveys suggest that, for now at least, most Romanians and Bulgarians would only come to the UK with a firm offer of work. Looking at Romania, of the 90 people who said they were planning to work in the UK, 65% would do so only with an offer from a recruitment agency, or directly from a company. For the 138 Bulgarians answering this question, 60% said they would do so only with an offer from a recruitment agency, or directly from a company.

When looking at what kind of people are interested in moving to the UK, the Bulgarian survey suggested they tend to be younger and they are more likely to be unemployed than the average in the survey. While the Romanian respondents who were interested in working in the UK were more professional and better off than the average. 

Speaking to BBC Newsnight Bulgaria's Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism, Assen Vassilev, said he did not think there would be a mass exodus of Bulgarians when the changes came into effect.

"I think people who wanted to leave have already left. Gone somewhere, come back, gone somewhere else come back. And going back to the survey that shows that 60-70% of people want a firm job offer. They know that going to a place that looks nice in pictures is not going to make your life better."

The poll comes as British MPs prepare to debate today the possible impact of immigration from Bulgaria and Romania.

To see a video about the survey click here

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