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Review of the Transitional Restrictions maintained by Bulgaria and Romania

with regard to the Acquisition of Agricultural Real Estate

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During the accession negotiations, candidate countries requested the possibility to maintain existing national provisions restricting the acquisition of agricultural land or forests. They considered these derogations necessary in order to preserve the socio-economic agricultural structure of the countries from shocks that might arise from the differences in land prices and income with the rest of the Union, and to be able to pursue an effective agricultural policy. They were also deemed necessary due to an unfinished process of privatisation and restitution of agricultural land to the farmers in some countries. Bulgaria and Romania were granted transitional periods during which they could maintain existing provisions of their legislation restricting the acquisition of agricultural land or forest, in derogation to the freedom of capital movement enshrined in Art. 56 of the EC Treaty.

The Commission is required by the Act of Accession to review these transitional measures in the third year following the date of accession and to submit a report to the Council, which may decide, acting unanimously, to shorten or terminate these transitional periods. The results of this study will serve as an input for this Commission report to the Council.

The specific objectives of the study are to
• analyse accurately the agricultural sector in Bulgaria and Romania and its evolution since the period of negotiation and accession,
• compare these findings with the situation in the Union, and in particular with the situation in the “old” Member States (EU-25) of the European Union,
• take stock of the transitional restrictions effectively maintained by Bulgaria and Romania,
• review conditions that led to an agreement on transitional measures at the time of accession
• analyse their effect on the sector and
• draw conclusions on their relevance and usefulness, and the necessity or not to maintain them.

Michael Emerson

Associate Senior Research Fellow

+32 (0)494 10 14 64

Johan F.M. Swinnen

Associate Senior Research Fellow