Cash-for-citizenship law vetoed in Bulgaria

Cash-for-citizenship law vetoed in Bulgaria

SOFIA - Agence France-Presse
Cash-for-citizenship law vetoed in Bulgaria

President Plevneliev (R) says Bulgarian citizenship means EU citizenship. AFP photo

Bulgaria’s president yesterday vetoed parts of a new law offering citizenship to anyone investing in the EU country’s ailing economy, saying citizenship cannot be based on financial issues.

“The assessment whether to grant citizenship or not cannot be based on financial arguments,” President Rosen Plevneliev said in a statement. “This approach does not take into account the essence of citizenship as a political and legal tie of the person with the state ... from which ensue a series of rights and obligations,” he said adding that Bulgarian citizenship now means EU citizenship.

The changes approved last week by parliament are an attempt by the government to attract sorely needed foreign investment, which slumped from 6.55 billion Euros in 2008 to 1.75 billion Euros in 2011. The proposed changes offer citizenship to anyone who has been a permanent resident for at least a year and has invested at least 511,000 euros in a company involved in a large investment project. The changes to the Investment Incentives Law also grant permanent residency to anyone investing as a partner or a shareholder at least 2 million euros into a Bulgarian company which in turn invests in the economy and creates at least 50 jobs.

Plevneliev criticized these requirements as “unnecessarily heightened.” The law now goes back to parliament but Plevneliev, who comes from right-wing Premier Boyko Borisov’s party, does not have the right to a second veto.

Bulgarian citizens are free to travel in the visa-free European Schengen area and to work in a number of sectors in Western Europe, even though Bulgaria is not a member of the 26-nation zone.