Bulgaria is experiencing a wide plethora of legislative changes, from employment law and artificial intelligence all the way to the commercial sector, IT, and ESG, according to Deloitte Legal Country Legal Leader and Senior Managing Associate Zvezdelina Filova.
“The new whistleblowing act, which came into force in May, imposes several obligations on employers in Bulgaria,” Filova begins. “Private sector employers with 50 to 249 employees will have to comply with the act starting from December 17 this year.” The law mandates the establishment of an internal channel for “processing signals and the implementation of specific internal policies for processing those signals. The Bulgarian data protection authority will be responsible for oversight, and we are expecting secondary legislation to provide further details on how to fulfill these obligations,” she says.
Aside from this significant development, Filova mentions that the Bulgarian legal landscape might become enriched by a new take on artificial intelligence. “The artificial intelligence act is still a draft on the EU level, but lawyers in Bulgaria have been actively engaging with the subject. We've had multiple events dedicated to AI, and there is also a Bulgarian bill before parliament that proposes amendments to the copyright act, which relate to AI to some extent, particularly regarding the use of copyrighted materials in AI training.”
Furthermore, Filova reports additional legislative matters, adding that there are likely to be “amendments to the Bulgarian commercial act, which aim to provide clarity on different provisions which are currently disputable and unclear regarding commercial companies, their status, shares, and transactions. Additionally, there is a new act on the insolvency of individuals, which has been approved by the parliament upon first reading,” she reports.
And ESG remains a hot topic: “while not purely a legal matter, lawyers are expected to be actively involved in supporting companies with their reporting obligations,” Filova says. “We are closely monitoring ongoing EU-level regulations and engaging in discussions with clients to help them prepare for non-financial reporting. There are various reporting obligations for companies in the financial and non-financial sector – some are already in force, others will become effective in 2024 and the following years, and the companies will need to start preparing.”
Moreover, Filova reports that amendments relating to closed electricity distribution networks were introduced – as well as a “new law that regulates such networks. Additionally, the Digital Operations Resilience Act came into force, focusing on IT security.” Furthermore, she adds that “the process of transposing the directive on collective claims into Bulgarian law is currently ongoing, with a bill before parliament that aims to regulate the rights of different associations to file collective claims in the interest of consumers.”
Finally, Filova mentions that Bulgaria has seen a new parliament come into session at the beginning of June. “Its focus is primarily on constitutional reform related to the position of the Chief Prosecutor. While we expect them to address other bills as well, that remains their top priority,” she says. “Moreover, it is positive news to finally have a regular government after multiple elections in the past two years. We hope for positive developments on various initiatives from the new government,” she concludes.