Bulgarian cabinet backs Constitutional Court challenge to extending moratorium on selling land to foreigners
Bulgaria’s cabinet supports the challenge in the Constitutional Court by 55 members of Parliament who want the court to overturn a parliamentary resolution calling on the cabinet to take all steps necessary to extend beyond January 2014 the moratorium on the sale of land to foreigners.
The resolution was approved amid controversy after being proposed by ultra-nationalists Ataka. It was supported by centre-right opposition GERB and by most Bulgarian Socialist Party MPs, with MRF MPs opposed.
Approval of the resolution was a major embarrassment for the BSP because most its parliamentary caucus voted against the stance taken by the party leadership, which opposed the resolution.
After considerable tensions over the resolution within the ruling axis between members of the BSP and the MRF, the BSP lent some of its votes to an MRF challenge to the resolution in the Constitutional Court.
On December 4, Bulgaria’s cabinet approved an opinion on the application, lodged in the Constitutional Court on November 14.
The opinion described the resolution, calling for the extension of the moratorium to January 1 2020, as in contradiction with the constitution, Bulgaria’s EU accession treaty, and law on the conditions and arrangements for Bulgaria’s EU accession.
Bulgaria joined the EU in January 2007 and the moratorium was provided for as a transitional arrangement, to fall away on January 1 2014.
In papers before the Constitutional Court, the 55 applicants said that the resolution was contrary to various provisions of the constitution and the EU accession treaty, including on free movement of capital.
The applicants said that the provisions of the transitional measures did not permit that after January 1 2014 there could be any restrictions on the acquisition of ownership of agricultural land, forests and forestry land by nationals of another EU member state, nationals of states parties to the agreement on the European Economic Area and legal persons formed in accordance with the laws of another EU member state or EEA state.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)