Proposed amendments to Bulgaria’s Agricultural Land Act posted for comment on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture envisage allowing citizens of other European Union countries to buy agricultural land in Bulgaria.
If approved, the amendments would take effect in January 2020.
Current law allows companies and organisations from other EU countries to buy agricultural land in Bulgaria, while barring individuals from doing so, as well as citizens of non-EU countries. The draft retains the bar on the purchase of land by non-EU nationals.
The draft amendments are being proposed because the current form of the ban runs counter to an EU directive that EU citizens should have the right to buy land in all EU countries.
The ban on foreigners buying land in Bulgaria was legislated in 2013, with the backing of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, ultra-nationalists Ataka and Boiko Borissov’s GERB party. The move was opposed by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.
The Constitutional Court ruled in 2014 that extending the ban on the sale of land to foreigners beyond that year was unconstitutional.
In a report on November 24, Bulgarian National Television reported Stayko Staykov, head of the Association of Owners of Agricultural Land, as backing the changes.
“We cannot continue to violate the European directive if we want to be part of the European family,” Staykov said.
He said that there was scant interest among EU firms in buying agricultural land, because of the small size of the plots, which made it unattractive for modern agriculture.
Comment on the draft amendments remains open until December 5.
(Photo: Dido Ivanov)