The decision for moratorium on foreign parties acquiring land in Bulgaria has been declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court.

The decision for the moratorium was adopted by Parliament on 22 October 2013 and was due to last until 1 January 2020. It assigned to the Council of Ministers to undertake all necessary actions for the announcement of that moratorium.

It was introduced notwithstanding Bulgaria’s agreement, in its EU accession treaty, that parties from EU/EEA states would be free to acquire land for secondary residences as of 1 January 2012 and to acquire agricultural or forest land as of 1 January 2014.

Parliament’s decision to adopt the moratorium and to assign to the Council of Ministers to implement it was challenged in the Constitutional Court. The court has now declared that decision unconstitutional on the following grounds:

  • it contradicts fundamental constitutional principles, such as the principle of the constitutional State and the principle of separation of powers;
  • it contains internal contradictions between its title and contents;
  • it was beyond the power of Parliament to assign to the Council of Ministers to undertake all necessary acts and actions and more specifically, to undertake actions for the unilateral amendment of an international treaty;
  • the Council of Ministers had no legal instruments to implement the decision for the moratorium;
  • the Council of Ministers is not an executive body of the parliament; the Parliament may not adopt acts undermining the independence and discretion of the Council of Ministers to conduct Bulgaria’s foreign policy in relation to the EU and its treaty relations with other countries;
  • it directly contradicts the provision of the Constitution which authorises foreigners to inherit land by virtue of law;
  • it is inconsistent with the accession treaty, which is now part of Bulgarian law and takes precedence over any national laws which are inconsistent with it. The accession treaty can only be changed by the procedure set out in the treaty itself.

Law: Constitutional Court Decision No. 1 dated 28 January 2014, promulgated in State Gazette No. 10