Nine honorary consuls have filed a complaint with the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) challenging the regulatory changes that stripped them of diplomatic privileges, specialist judiciary news website Legalworld.bg reported on May 10.
In March, the Bulgarian Cabinet decided to cut back the perks afforded to honorary consuls, which included diplomatic car licence plates (easily recognisable because of their red background colour) and tax breaks. This followed an inquiry by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, with the Foreign Ministry concluding that honorary consuls in Bulgaria had privileges far above the norm among other European Union member countries.
There are more than 60 honorary consuls for foreign countries in Bulgaria, most of them private sector business people. The formal complaint to the SAC was lodged by the consuls for Kenya, Israel, Malta, the Seychelles, Mauritius, Thailand, Antigua and Barbuda, Sri Lanka and Estonia, Legalworld.bg said.
The complaint argued that the change in the Interior Ministry regulations – implemented in April and requiring all honorary consuls to take down their diplomatic licence plates within a period of three months – was done with 20 breaches of rules, including 14 procedural infractions, as well as violating the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations.
Procedural breaches included failure to offer a reasoning for the need to implement changes and no justification for the goals that the amended regulations would accomplish; divergences between the draft amendments put up for public discussion and the final text of the changes, while the public comment period was shorter than the 14 days mandated by law.
Legalworld.bg said that the complaint was allowed, but the SAC is yet to schedule the first hearing on the case.
(Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photo: mfa.bg)