[holding answer 22 November 2007]: The UK has actively supported Bulgaria in its efforts to improve standards of child care given to children in institutions, both during the country's accession negotiations and since it joined the EU. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recently completed a project contributing to the introduction of inclusive education for children with special educational needs and from ethnic minorities.
Much, however remains to be done. Our embassy in Sofia has raised the issue with the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Justice Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Policy and we remain in close touch with the authorities. We are pleased that they are harnessing EU funds to help speed up implementation of reforms in this area.
The embassy is also in regular contact with members of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) community active in this field. Our staff are encouraging NGOs to work together and alongside the Bulgarian authorities, to help implement the necessary reforms. The Bulgarians have announced that they will direct €5 million of EU structural funds for 2008 to deal with this problem.