Bulgaria's Socialists Regret Lifting Ban on Land Sale to Foreigners
A week after Bulgaria's top court revoked a ban on selling arable land to investors from the EU, ruling Socialists have shepherded new legislative curbs.
EU investors will be denied the chance to buy up land unless they have had permanent residence in Bulgaria at least three years prior to the deal, reads the proposal, moved to parliament by Socialist MPs.
Bulgaria's top court revoked at the end of January a ban on selling arable land to investors from the European Union, which opponents said put the country's European future at stake.
The European Commission warned that this would breach Bulgaria's commitment to lift the moratorium, which expired at the end of 2013.
On October 22, Bulgaria's Parliament controversially decided to extend the ban on sale of agricultural land to foreigners until 2020.
The proposal for the extension was made by ultranationalist anti-EU party Ataka, a sort of kingmaker for the Socialist-led government. Surprisingly, it was backed by both the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, and the opposition center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB.
A total of 171 lawmakers voted in favor of extending the moratorium, while 38 were against and 12 abstained from voting. The biggest surprise were the Socialists, because all, except one, who took part in the debates, urged to reject Ataka's proposal, but at the end 59 of a total of 75 BSP MPs present voted in its favor.
Foreigners from outside the EU have been allowed to acquire land in the Black Sea state through Bulgarian-registered companies since the country joined the EU in 2007.
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