Bulgarian President to approach Constitutional Court over heavy fines for camping on beaches

Bulgarian head of state President Rossen Plevneliev said on March 12 2016 that he would approach the Constitutional Court over a law approved by Parliament that imposes large fines for camping and parking within 100 metres of the shoreline of the country’s Black Sea beaches.

Amendments to the Black Sea Act approved by Bulgaria’s National Assembly on March 1 2016 provide for fines of up to 10 000 leva (about 5113 euro) for breaking the ban.

A statement by the President’s office said that Plevneliev had promulgated the law but was approaching the Constitutional Court about it.

Bulgarian environmental conservation organisations had appealed to him to veto the law. Bulgaria’s constitution gives the head of state a limited power of veto, to refer legislation back to the National Assembly, which is empowered to vote to override the veto.

The statement said that Plevneliev welcomed that part of the amendments that showed awareness of the need to preserve the few remaining beaches in Bulgaria with natural landscapes.

A first step to protect the Irakli, Byala – Karadere and Coral beaches for environmentally-friendly tourism could not but be supported, the President’s office said.

The President, however, expected the institutions responsible for implementing state policy on tourism and protection of the Black Sea coast, to follow up to ensure to the utmost the preservation of the overall appearance of these beaches.

The ban on giving them concessions and rent, as well as carrying out any business activities on them was a step in conservation, but on its own was not enough.

Plevneliev said that biodiversity and the ecosystems of the beaches, as well as their natural state, could not be preserved, if the area around them was built up.

“We must respect the needs of Bulgarian citizens to rest not in hotels and resorts, but as close to nature as possible”.

The state had a responsibility and a role to create rules that guarantee the right of every Bulgarian citizen to use the natural and other resources of the country and should find a balance between different needs, Plevneliev said.

“The president has no power to demand the creation of specific rules either by veto or by legislative initiative, but calls on MPs and Ministers to promptly do so.”

Plevneliev said that Bulgaria needs a comprehensive policy for the development of tourism and protection of the Black Sea coast, including rules for camping.

It was not, however, not camping that permanently changes the appearance of the Black Sea coast, but construction, he said.

In the President’s view, the fines of up to 10 000 leva are disproportionate, run counter to Article 55 of Bulgaria’s constitution and Article 52 of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and do not reflect the actual impact on natural resources and the environment.

Plevneliev also noted the public reaction of dissatisfaction with some of the changes that had been adopted, adding that while there was a need to introduce rules, the way that the amendment had been adopted between first and second reading without timely public disclosure and public debate, “creates a negative attitude and calls into question the good intentions of the MPs.

He called for rapid consideration of amendments to the regulations that provide for an impact assessment of major legislative changes.

“Only through openness, transparency and justified motivations of legislative proposals can Bulgarian citizens be convinced that the National Assembly takes into account their interests and seeks a reasonable balance in government,” Plevneliev said.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



The Sofia Globe staff

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