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03 December 2020
newsletter
bulgaria

cee legislation tracker: bulgaria

Status as of 03/12 12am CET

Table of contents

  • 1 Financial Support Measures
  • 2 Capital Markets
  • 3 Employment
  • 4 Real Estate
  • 5 Tax & Duties
  • 6 Corporate
  • 7 Competition
  • 8 Courts and Authorities
  • 9 Healthcare
  • 10 Insolvency
  • 11 Insurance
  • 12 Intellectual Property
  • 13 Telecom & Data Protection
  • 14 Other

 

1 Financial Support Measures

  • Based on the updated Guidelines on legislative and non‐legislative moratoria on loan repayments of the European Banking Authority (EBA/GL/2020/15), the Bulgarian National Bank announced that it may approve a revised framework for extension of the private moratorium on loan repayments, pending new proposal by the Association of the Bulgarian Banks. The moratorium may be applied by 31 March 2021 and the loan obligations may be postponed with 9 months.
  • Employees whose work was suspended on the basis of a government order during the state of emergency or the emergency epidemic situation are allowed to claim financial support for no more than 60 days of the used unpaid leave. The support amounts to BGN 24 (approx. EUR 12) for every day of used unpaid leave for the full-time employees.
  • The Bulgarian National Bank has published the framework for private moratorium on financial loans. The framework allows for amendments in the payment schedule of the principal and/or the interest. The obligations may be postponed with 6 months but no later than 31/12. The full eligibility criteria may be found here in Bulgarian language. The affected borrowers must apply for relief by 22/06.
  • As of 09/04 until 13/05, if individuals and companies in the private sector default under loans and other types of financing (factoring, leasing, etc.) provided by banks and financial institutions, including where the receivables are assigned to other banks, financial institutions or third parties, no default interest or penalties shall be charged, acceleration clauses shall not apply, the agreements cannot be cancelled due to non-performance and property cannot be seized. The measure is extended until 13/07 but only for financing provided by financial institutions other than the banks and their subsidiaries, e.g. it applies to loans granted by fast-credit companies.
  • As of 13/03 until 08/04 the consequences of delayed payments do not apply to individuals and companies in the private sector, including statutory interest, penalties for delay, acceleration events, cancellation of the contract and seizure of property.
  • The Bulgarian National Bank applied a package of measures amounting to BGN 9.3 billion (approx. EUR 4.8 billion). The core measures are designed to procure additional capital and liquidity strengthening, such as converting the full banking system profit into equity, cancellation of the projected increases of the counter cyclical capital buffer for 2020 and 2021, and increasing the banking system liquidity by BGN 7 billion (approx. EUR 3.6 billion) by reduction of the commercial banks’ foreign exposures.

2 Capital Markets

n/a 

3 Employment

3.1 Additional options for employers (see details here in English):

  • Assignment of work from home/remote work without employees' consent.
  • Provision of up to 50% of the paid annual leave without employees' consent.
  • Introductions of part-time work for some or all of the employees.
  • Ceasing the activity of the entire or part of the enterprise or of individual employees and providing the entire paid annual leave to the affected employees without their consent.
  • If the company's activity has been ceased by the authorities, the employer must not allow the affected employees to their working places.
  • The employer must approve all requests for paid or unpaid leave if submitted by:
    • a pregnant employee or an employee in advanced in vitro procedure;
    • mother or adoptive mother of a child of up to 12 years or with special needs regardless of the age;
    • single father or adoptive father of a child of up to 12 years or with special needs regardless of the age;
    • an employee under 18
    •  an employee with reduced capacity 50% and above;
    •  an employee with special protection against dismissal as an occupational-rehabilitee employee or as an employee suffering from a disease designated in an ordinance of the Minister of Health.
  • An employee who is a close contact (as determined by the health authorities) to a COVID-19 positive person transfers to remote work/work from home, if possible, by declaring this circumstance to the employer (who in turn issues an order determining the conditions of the remote work/work from home).
  • Overtime restrictions do not apply to employees working under reduced working hours who provide or support the provision of medical assistance.

3.2 State aid for employers

  • During the application of the State of Emergency Act, but not more than 3 months, the National Social Security Institute provides to employers meeting certain criteria 60% of the social security income of their employees for January 2020 plus the employer's social security contributions over this 60%.
    There are several categories of eligible beneficiaries which cover a broad range of employers from different sectors. However, in general, the state aid is aimed at employers from the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak (e.g. hotels and restaurants) and employers which in reply to the confinement measures during the Spring lockdown (March – May 2020) had introduced part-time work or had suspended partially or entirely their activity.
    The aid is paid monthly upon approval of the eligible employers by the competent Bulgarian authorities. Initially, the state aid was supposed to be provided until 31 July 2020.  However, its prolongation was approved by the European Commission and currently aid may be provided for a maximum period of 9 months, i.e. from the state aid measure’s entry into force on 1 April 2020 until 31 December 2020.
    Further details in Bulgarian language are available here.

4 Real Estate

  • As of 09/04 tenants of properties owned by the state or the municipalities, which have to stop or restrict their activities due to the measures adopted during the emergency state, may be partially or fully released of rent payments by a decision/order of the ministers, district governors and other authorized officials.

5 Tax & Duties

5.1 Corporate Tax

  • Extension of the term for submission of the corporate tax declaration and payment of tax obligations by 30/06.

5.2 VAT

  • As of 01/07 VAT due by restaurants and catering services is reduced to 9%.

5.3 Local Tax

  • The deadline to benefit from 5% deduction of local taxes, i.e. real estate and vehicles, is extended to 30/06.

5.4 Tax and Social Security Code

  • As of 21/05 the suspended prescription periods are resumed.
  • As of 24/03 prescription periods for tax obligations are suspended until the state of emergency is repealed.
  • As of 24/03 enforcement proceedings for tax obligations are suspended and new enforcement actions will not be initiated (certain exceptions apply).

6 Corporate

  • The deadline to publish the company's annual financial statements for the year 2019 in the Bulgarian Commercial Register is extended to 30/09. The annual financial statements may be signed via electronic signatures instead of wet ink signatures.
  • The deadline for inactive companies to declare in the Bulgarian Commercial Register that they have not carried out activity for the reported period 2019 is extended to 30/06.
  • The deadline for publicly listed companies to conduct an annual general meeting is extended to 30/09.
  • As of 14/05 notaries resume their services with normal capacity.

7 Competition

7.1 Deadlines

  • The suspended deadlines from the beginning of the state of emergency (13/03) will be resumed after 16/04.
  • Filings still can be made in the office of the authority. Submission electronically or by mail is recommended.

7.2 Hearings & Meetings

  • As of 09/04 hearings of the authority may be held online. The authority must take the necessary measures to ensure the participation of the parties.
  • Case check-ups should be done primarily via the contact details (phone, e-mail) given for the proceedings.
  • Third-party access to the authority is limited, except for access to the registry office.

7.3 Important documents

Public statement that the authority will focus on monitoring the pharmacy and food market sectors during the COVID-19 crisis

8 Courts and Authorities

8.1 Administrative Courts            

Procedural rules /deadlines

  • All suspended deadlines are resumed as of 21/05.
  • Pending deadlines under administrative court proceedings are suspended as of 13/03 until 13/05. As of 09/04 exceptions are envisaged in an annex to the State of Emergency Act, e.g. cases for appeal of building permits, concession and public procurement procedures.
  • As of 16/03 until 13/05 proceedings are not initiated under newly filed claims with a few exceptions where court hearings are still allowed.
  • As of the repeal of the state of emergency (13/05), there will be one-month extension of statutory periods which expire during the state of emergency and are related to the exercise of rights or performance of obligations of private companies and individuals. Certain exceptions are envisaged (applicable after 16/04), e.g. periods will not be extended under public procurement and concession procedures, as well as for the proceedings in the Competition Protection Act.
  • The validity periods of administrative acts (licenses, permits, etc.) which expire during the state of emergency are extended until 13/06.

Hearings

  • The administrative directors of each court may impose a temporary suspension of the hearings for no more than 14 days. The suspension may be imposed only once.
  • As of 14/05 court hearings are resumed under strict compliance with the anti-epidemic measures. Third parties and media representatives are not allowed to attend the hearings. Where possible, the hearings may be conducted via video conference.
  • As of 16/03 hearings are allowed only for limited types of cases where procedural deadlines still apply, e.g. request by a prosecutor for disclosure of tax information. Hearings may be held online. All other administrative cases must be scheduled after 13/04.

Service of Documents

  • As of 14/05 delivery of summons and other court documents is resumed. Court documents may be served electronically if the party to the proceedings requests so.
  • As of 16/03 delivery of summons, notifications and other court documents is suspended, except for the cases where hearings are allowed and procedural deadlines apply. The delivery should be made via phone or electronic means.

8.2 Criminal Courts

Procedural law / deadlines

  • All suspended deadlines are resumed as of 21/05.
  • Pending deadlines under criminal proceedings are mostly suspended as of 09/04. The exceptions are envisaged in an annex to the State of Emergency Act, e.g. cases for detention measures.
  • As of 16/03 until 13/05 proceedings are not initiated under new filings with a few exceptions where court hearings are still allowed.

Court hearings

  • The administrative directors of each court may impose a temporary suspension of the hearings for no more than 14 days. The suspension may be imposed only once.
  • As of 14/05 court hearings are resumed under strict compliance with the anti-epidemic measures. Third parties and media representatives are not allowed to attend the hearings. Where possible, the hearings may be conducted via video conference.
  • As of 16/03 hearings are allowed only for limited types of cases where procedural deadlines still apply, e.g. various detention measures. All other criminal cases must be scheduled after 13/04. The Sofia City Court is using Skype to conduct hearings where possible.

Service of Documents

  • As of 14/05 delivery of summons and other court documents is resumed. Court documents may be served electronically if the party to the proceedings requests so.
  • As of 16/03 delivery of summons, notifications and other court documents is suspended, except for the cases where hearings are allowed and procedural deadlines apply. The delivery should be made via phone or electronic means.

8.3 Civil Courts

Procedural law / deadlines

  • All suspended deadlines are resumed as of 21/05.
  • Pending deadlines under civil, arbitration and enforcement proceedings are suspended as of 13/03. As of 09/04 exceptions are envisaged in an annex to the State of Emergency Act, e.g. under applications for interim measures.
  • As of 16/03 until 13/05 proceedings are not initiated under newly filed claims with a few exceptions where court hearings are still allowed.
  • Prescription periods, i.e. the periods for submitting a claim before the court, are suspended as of 13/03.
  • As of 24/03 until 13/07 public sale of property and taking possession of property against natural persons are suspended. The enforcement actions will be further rescheduled.  
  • As of 24/03 preservation orders on bank accounts of natural persons and hospitals, as well as on labor remunerations and pensions, are not imposed (certain exceptions apply).

Court hearings

  • The administrative directors of each court may impose a temporary suspension of the hearings for no more than 14 days. The suspension may be imposed only once.
  • As of 14/05 court hearings are resumed under strict compliance with the anti-epidemic measures. Third parties and media representatives are not allowed to attend the hearings. Where possible, the hearings may be conducted via video conference.
  • As of 16/03 hearings are allowed only for limited types of cases where procedural deadlines still apply, e.g. under applications for interim measures. Hearings may be held online. All other civil cases must be scheduled after 13/04.

Service of Documents

  • As of 14/05 delivery of summons and other court documents is resumed. Court documents may be served electronically if the party to the proceedings requests so.
  • As of 16/03 delivery of summons, notifications and other court documents is suspended, except for the cases where hearings are allowed and procedural deadlines apply. The delivery should be made via phone or electronic means.

9 Healthcare

9.1 State of Emergency Act

  • For two years following 13/05 the Ministry of Tourism will grant state subsidies to tour operators which use air carriers with Bulgarian operative licenses for charter flights to Bulgaria. The subsidy will be in the amount of EUR 35 for each seat of the maximum capacity for a flight performed with a Bulgarian air carrier.
  • As of 24/04 until 31/05 the Council of Ministers may impose temporary measures for protection of foods produced in Bulgaria, their trade and release to the market in retail chains. Temporary restrictions for import of certain foods from countries outside the EU may also be imposed.
  • Until 13/07 the Minister of Health may impose restrictions on export of medicinal products.
  • Until 13/07 public procurement procedures do not apply for supplies of medicinal products and equipment needed for treatment of COVID-19 patients, as well as for services for disposal of pesticides and hospital waste.
  • The Customs Agency may provide free of charge detained goods that can protect the health of the people. The goods may be provided to hospitals, schools and other institutions.

9.2 Medical Equipment

  • As of 26/03: The export of disinfectants and protective equipment as specified in Annex I of the Commission implementing regulation (EU) 2020/402 is prohibited without an explicit export authorization by the Minister of Health. The prohibition does not apply to the EU member states. .

9.3 Medicinal products

  • As of 20/03 until further notice the exports of quinine-based medicinal products are prohibited. As of 24/04 the ban is lifted for the medicine analgin-chinin.

9.4 Public restrictions

Until 21/12 the following measures are in place:

  • All attendance classes in schools, universities, language centers and other educational academies are suspended.
  • Kindergartens and other children centers must suspend their activities.
  • Conferences, seminars, trainings, teambuilding and other attendance public events are suspended.
  • All cultural and entertainment events (cinemas, museums, galleries, concerts, etc.) are suspended except for theaters which can operate at 30% of their seating capacity. Distance of 1.5 meters and protective face masks are mandatory.
  • Personal gatherings and celebrations with more than 15 people are not allowed.
  • All team or individual sport events must be held with no audience.
  • Fitness centers and their group sports classes must suspend their activities.
  • Visits to restaurants, clubs, cafes, bars, casinos and other entertainment halls are not allowed. Food may be delivered or picked up for home.
  • Shopping malls may keep open only the grocery stores, pharmacies, zoo shops, optics and offices of banks, insurers and telecom operators.
  • Excursions and other forms of group tourism are suspended.
  • All natural and legal persons, which operate shops or other places that offer in-person services, must not allow more than 1 person per 3 square meters.
  • Employers must organize the working process in remote form where possible, allowing only 50% of the staff on the premises.
  • Between 8:30 am and 10:30 am grocery stores must not allow customers that are below 65 years old.

10 Insolvency

10.1 Support measures

  • As of 31/03: Amendments in the budget of the Ministry of Economy – additional funds amounting up to BGN 700 million (approx. EUR 358 million) designated for the increase of the capital of the Bulgarian Development Bank. The amounts will be granted in stages and used for support measures including the issuance of portfolio guarantees to commercial banks in order to facilitate more flexible terms under business loans.
  • During the state of emergency the governing bodies of the European structural and investment funds may unilaterally amend agreements for granted financial aid in accordance with the need for crisis measures and also provide financial aid under simplified rules, e.g. without an announcement for tender offers.

11 Insurance

  • The deadline for the monthly reports submitted by insurers to the supervisory authority is extended to 2 months following the reporting period.

12 Intellectual Property

n/a

13 Telecom & Data Protection

13.1 Telecoms

  • Obligations of telecom providers to provide location data for evaluation whether people comply with quarantine orders.

13.2 Data Protection

  • No revisions of applicable local laws to facilitate health data or guidelines from the competent data protection authorities have been adopted so far.

14 Other

n/a

 

Kindly note that the summaries on this page are for information purposes only and do not take into account the specifics of a certain situation. The information is not designed to substitute and cannot substitute legal advice tailored to your needs. It is made available strictly on a non-reliance basis. Also, some of the addressed topics might be subject to short-term changes. 

Dimitar
Kairakov

Associate

bulgaria