Bulgaria’s Parliament voted on February 26 to overturn the presidential veto on a bill of amendments to the drugs law restricting the export of medicines.
The house vote saw 130 MPs in favour of overturning the vote and only 55 against. The motion has been on the National Assembly’s agenda for weeks, but a vote has been postponed repeatedly as MPs focused on passing the Electoral Code.
Last month, Plevneliev vetoed the bill, saying that while all efforts to ensure that Bulgaria had sufficient amounts of medicine to meet domestic demand should be welcomed, such efforts should be in line with both Bulgaria’s constitution and EU law.
The key provision in the amended law that the presidency objected to was the requirement for drug wholesalers to receive the approval for export from the government’s Medicines Agency. Such a request has to be filed for each individual export shipment and the agency would have up to 30 days to give or withhold its approval.
Plevneliev said that the amendments did not include any provisions to ensure that potential exporters were treated equally: “Could a refusal by the director of the Medicines Agency of one export request serve as the grounds for tacit approval for another request on the ‘grounds’ that sufficient amounts have been secured [for domestic demand]?”
In the absence of clear rules how the new export approval framework is to work, the situation “has the potential to induce corruption practices”, Plevneliev said.
Furthermore, the amendments breached EU law because export approval was required even if the drugs were to be shipped to another EU member state – and EU law explicitly bans export restrictions within the bloc, Plevneliev said.
Now that Parliament voted to overturn the veto, Plevneliev has to sign the bill into law, but he also has the right to refer the new law to the Constitutional Court and ask it to rule on whether the law’s provisions infringe on free enterprise, as he had argued when imposing the veto.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)