Deal reached to keep Bulgaria’s government in place

An agreement has been reached that will see the vote on a motion of no confidence in Bulgaria’s Nikolai Denkov government, currently expected to be held on November 22, defeated.

The agreement involves deals on the draft Budget for 2024 and Bulgaria’s temporary derogation from an EU ban on processing crude oil originating in Russia.

GERB-UDF leader Boiko Borissov has demanded amendments to the draft Budget, while GERB-UDF and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) wanted the derogation ended immediately, while We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria (WCC-DB) wanted it to continue until its scheduled end.

Borissov’s GERB-UDF group and Delyan Peevski’s MRF group had threatened not to support keeping Denkov’s government in place unless We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria made concessions on these issues.

On November 17, talks were held among the three groups, with GERB-UDF parliamentary leader Dessislava Atanassova telling a subsequent news conference that GERB-UDF and the MRF would participate in the National Assembly sitting on November 22 and “show that the Euro-Atlantic majority exists”.

Voting on the motion of no confidence, attempted on November 16 and 17, was aborted because GERB-UDF and the MRF denied the House a quorum.

In terms of the November 17 agreement, the derogation for the import of Russian oil will be removed prematurely in two steps – from January 1, export quotas will be suspended, and from March 1 2024, the import and processing of Russian oil will be permanently stopped.

Atanassova said that opportunities have been found to satisfy all the requests of the GERB-UDF and MRF groups in terms of revenues and expenses in the draft Budget.

Revenue will be reduced by 2.4 billion leva, which is the assumed planned contribution to the gas tax.

There will be a list of priority national investment sites, which includes the Struma and Hemus motorways, among others.

A priority list of investments for the municipalities, which is an integral part of the Budget, has also been agreed upon. The debt ceiling has also been adjusted by about a billion leva.

GERB-UDF has received guarantees from WCC-DB that in the future there will be no cases in which the WCC-DB group will vote together with Vuzrazhdane, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and ITN in the House.

The changes agreed to the draft Budget reduces planned capital spending by about two billion leva, which is the planned contribution payable by Gazprom for the gas transit fee.

Thus, capital costs go from just less than 12 billion leva to just less than 10 billion leva, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev said.

“The solution found for the derogation is useful for Bulgarian citizens, because on the one hand it stops exports and the money going to Russia, on the other hand it guarantees that there will be no shocks on the internal fuel market,” Vassilev said.

“We had a frank conversation with colleagues from GERB about the fact that neither they nor we should form a majority in the National Assembly with BSP and Vuzrazhdane, because this leads to unhealthy processes and loss of trust,” he said.

The MRF’s Yordan Tsonev said: “”We are pleased to have been heard about stopping this export of profits to Russia. This formula we have found will both satisfy the Bulgarian citizens and the market, but it will stop the export of funds to Russia and the financing of the war”/.

“The government remains,” Tsonev said.

(Screenshot of BNT’s streaming of the news conference)

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