Bulgaria accused of ‘appalling hypocrisy’ because it BANS foreigners from buying land just days after its citizens get the right to work anywhere in Europe
In October 2013, rebel MP’s in the Bulgarian parliament enacted a law which prohibits non-Bulgarian nationals from purchasing agricultural property. This law was to become effective in January 2014, the very time the old prohibition was due to expire. The legal problem for Bulgaria is that when they signed the Ascension Treaty which allowed them to join the EU the terms of that agreement stated that such a ban could only be enforced for seven years, expiring in 2014. Nevertheless, the congress has passed a bill which extends the ban until 2020. Parliamentarians fear the cheap cost of agricultural property in Bulgaria (approximately 10 times cheaper than elsewhere in Europe) would create an influx of foreign investments leaving little to its national citizens.
The bill is being challenged as unconstitutional and it is now up to Bulgaria’s constitutional court to decide the bill’s fate.
In the interim, as of January 2014, Bulgarian nationals now enjoy the option of living and working anywhere in Europe. Bulgarian president Rosen Plevneliev does not support the ban, describing it as ‘wrong’ and has admitted the move could cause ‘serious problems’ for the country’s image in Europe (reports The Mail Online newspaper).
It is reported that other EU countries are furious at the continued ban and there will surely be hefty fines imposed on the Bulgarian government by the EU as long as the ban continues. The legal question is can one sign-up to an agreement (including conditions) that allows one privleges (such as EU membership) and change their mind about he conditions after receiving the implied benefits.Of course it is a different set of parliamentarians in power today than those who made the original agreement, but these same parliamentarians should have seen these situations coming and properly planned for them.
Firstly the bill extending the ban should be struck down by the constitutional court after consideration, and we would expect that anyone who can prove a financial loss due to the enactment of the bill will have a good case in the European courts.