Bulgarian MPs amend law to expand border police powers

Bulgarian Parliament passed amendments to the Interior Ministry Act on November 23 that would give the border police directorate of the ministry wider powers to investigate crimes and participate in search operations.

This will allow the directorate’s employees to take a more active role in border policing, Bulgarian National Radio reported.

The wide-ranging bill of amendments affects a number of Interior Ministry departments, including fire-fighters, stipulating that all fire safety crews have to be made of at least three people. The sole exception is for villages or towns with less than 5000 residents, where fire crews can have just two people.

The amendments also mandate the ministry to sign new contracts to ensure the fire safety of places of strategic locations – including key power plants (such as the Kozloduy nuclear power plant), Sofia airport and Bulgarian National Bank buildings – before the end of this year.

Another change is to regulate the ministry’s relationship with volunteer associations in cases of emergencies and disasters.

As regards the activity of the 112 emergency number service, the amendments extend by one year the existence of the old emergency numbers that predate the common European 112 emergency number – 150 (fire-fighters), 160 (ambulance) and 166 (police). Calls to those numbers are already re-routed to the 112 emergency number but the country’s cabinet is given another year to decide whether to abolish those emergency numbers.

The amendments also introduce the concept of an eCall, the initiative to bring rapid assistance to motorists involved in a collision anywhere in the European Union, into Bulgarian law.

In case of a crash, an eCall-equipped car would automatically calls the nearest emergency centre, providing information such as the crash site location even if the car’s passengers are unable to speak. EU regulations mandate that all cars sold in the bloc starting April 2018 are equipped with this technology.



Alex Bivol

Alex Bivol is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Sofia Globe.