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Bulgaria: Real Estate Trends and Projects Status

Bulgaria: Real Estate Trends and Projects Status

Issue 11.2
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Although 2024 is just beginning, below we have summarized the trends and projects expected to have an impact on the development of the real estate market in Bulgaria:

1. Removing Legal Obstacles to EU Citizens Acquiring Agricultural Land

With a January 18, 2024 decision, the EU Court of Justice (Case C‑562/22) has lifted the local law restrictions EU citizens faced when buying agricultural land in Bulgaria. This may entail possible shifts in the agricultural land market and the entry of institutional investors in this sector.

You may recall that since 2014, only natural or legal persons who had been resident or established in Bulgaria for more than five years were eligible to acquire title over agricultural lands in Bulgaria. Legal persons with registrations under Bulgarian law of less than five years were not allowed to acquire title over agricultural lands if the shareholders in or founders of the company were not resident or established in Bulgaria for more than five years.

2. Selecting Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant New

Capacities EPC Contractor

Bulgaria owns only one nuclear power plant – NPP Kozloduy. Currently, it operates two units of 1,000 MW each.  In 2023, Westinghouse Electric Company announced that it had signed a Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) contract with the plant for a new AP1000® reactor to be located at the Kozloduy site. At the beginning of 2024, NPP Kozloduy announced a procedure to select an EPC contractor for the design and construction of the infrastructure around two new nuclear reactors.

According to the tender description, the first of the two new units is to be executed by 2035. This means that in 10 years, the country will have a new nuclear unit that will work together with the existing units of the plant. Given the development of RES and new technologies for energy storage and energy efficiency, this will put the country in a stable position in electricity production, even in the event of complete closure of the coal-fired thermal power plants.

3. Constructing the Rousse-Veliko Tarnovo Highway

The construction of the Rousse – Veliko Tarnovo highway began in December 2023. The project route has a total length of 132.84 km. The highway will start from the town of Rousse (at the Donau) and will reach the town of Debeletz, where the traffic will be divided toward the two main passes through the Balkan Mountains. The highway is important for the development of the corridors along the North-South axis (between Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece) as Rousse is a cross-point of the highways that are planned to connect the ports of the Aegean Sea with Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine.

4. Sanctions Against Russia and “Russian Properties”

According to press reports, Russia’s Lukoil has begun “a process of selling its refinery” near the Bulgarian town of Burgas at the Black Sea. The media also speculate that the parliament is discussing the nationalization of the Russian camp “Kamchia Sanatorium and Rehabilitation Complex” located in the Bulgarian resort Kamchia. The complex, the sole owner of which is the Property Department of the City of Moscow, is located on land in Avren Municipality, near the mouth of the Kamchia River and bordering one of the largest and most beautiful beaches on the North Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The area of the camp is about 300,000 sqm. Changes in the ownership of some of the shopping centers due to these tendencies may be expected.

5. Schengen

Boycotts of Austrian goods, shops, and gas stations on the territory of Bulgaria have emerged due to Austria’s veto against Bulgaria’s full accession to the Schengen Area. This proposal was put forward by the Association of Industrial Capital in Bulgaria and gained popularity at the beginning of January. In addition, the Association has offered stricter checks on Austrian trucks traveling through Bulgaria.

Calls for a boycott of Austrian food retailers also appeared on social media. An affiliate of one such retailer in Sofia was covered in red paint because symbols of Russian occupations in Bulgaria were displayed at its entrance.

By Elena Todorova and Dimitar Vlaevsky, Co-Heads of Real Estate, Schoenherr Bulgaria

This article was originally published in Issue 11.2 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.

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