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European Union tries to calm fears of Bulgarian, Romanian exodus

Published on Jan 2, 2014 12:02 AM

BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - The European Union (EU) sought to calm fears in countries like Britain, France and Germany that they face a mass influx of Romanians and Bulgarians following the lifting of restrictions on Wednesday, a change that risks fuelling anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe.

From Jan 1, seven years after their countries joined the EU, Bulgarians and Romanians are free to live and work anywhere in the 28-nation bloc without applying for work permits.

The long-planned change has caused alarm in wealthier EU countries, where right-wing politicians and media are telling people to brace for a flood of southern Europeans who will take jobs from locals, strain public services and scrounge off the welfare state.

"Benefits Britain Here We Come! Fears as migrant flood begins," said the tabloid Daily Express in a front-page headline on Wednesday.

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