Bulgaria's prime minister has begun to row back on a parliament decision to extend his country's ban on land sales to foreigners in the face of possible reprimands from the EU.
When it joined the EU in 2007, Bulgaria negotiated a seven-year transition period before allowing foreigners who are not permanent residents in the country to buy land. The transition period will come to an end in January 2014.
The transition period was aimed at protecting Bulgaria's socio-economic and agricultural structure from shocks that might have arisen from the differences in land prices and incomes with the rest of the EU and to prevent large numbers of foreign buyers snapping up land there.
Just before Bulgaria joined the EU (2004-2006), land sales prices in Bulgaria grew by 24pc to €895/ha and following accession, land prices continued to rise by 34pc, reaching €1,202/ha in 2007-2008.
Today, good quality land is sold for €1,500-3,500/ha. The Bulgarian parliament voted last Tuesday to extend the ban on the purchase of Bulgarian arable land out to 2020, despite warnings from the EU that such a move would result in a review of its accession treaty.