site.btaUPDATED President Challenges Constitutionality of New Fee on Russian Gas Import, Transit

President Challenges Constitutionality of New Fee on Russian Gas Import, Transit
President Challenges Constitutionality of New Fee on Russian Gas Import, Transit
President Rumen Radev (BTA Photo)

President Rumen Radev has referred to the Constitutional Court a new fee that Bulgaria imposed on the import and transit of Russian gas to and via Bulgaria, said the President's Press Secretariat Thursday. The fee was enacted through revisions to the Act on Control over the Implementation of Restrictive Measures in View of Russia's Actions Destabilizing the Situation in Ukraine, which took effect on October 13.

The revisions were not vetoed by the President.

His application to the Constitutional Court now says that the revisions "go against a number of assumption enshrined in the Constitution". "The challenged texts do not comply with the principle of legality of the taxes and fees because the legal nature of the new 'fee' is essentially unclear: is it a tax, a fee or a customs duty," the President argues. He also says that the revisions violate the right to ownership and free economic enterprise. "Last but not least, the revisions were adopted in conflict with the rules for exercise of legislative initiative and the rule of law," he says. 

The government has said that the fee would generate additional revenue for the country, would ensure level playing field of Russian pipeline gas and alternative non-Russian gas supplies, and reduce Russian revenues used in its war of aggression in Ukraine. Hungary and Serbia have slammed Bulgaria's decision claiming that the fee would increase the price they pay for the Russian gas that they still use. President Radev joined the critics of the fee early on, saying that with it the government is acting against the interests of an EU and NATO partner country {Hungary) and a neighbour (Serbia), threatens to undermine Bulgaria's role as a gas transiting country and will bring to failure Bulgarian gas transmission and storage operator Bulgartransgaz. The Republic of North Macedonia has threatened to claim compensations from Bulgaria if the new fee results in a higher gas price for Bulgaria.

The European Commission said it is discussing the new fee with the Bulgarian authorities.

The President further points out that the EU member states are in a customs union and no customs duty may be introduced between them or any fee with an equal effect be set in place unilaterally. At the same time, the EU members apply in their relations with third countries a common customs tarrif that is determined by the Council on the proposal of the European Commission. Also, the EU sanctions do not envisage additional restrictions set in place by individual member states.

“The Head of State has already expressed his position that the decision of the Bulgarian Parliament leads to an unacceptable risk of decapitalization and failure of [gas transmission and storage operator] Bulgartransgaz, which is a key enterprise in the structure of the Bulgarian energy industry, and that is a further reason for the President to exercise his right and take the matter to the Constitutional Court,” the President’s Press Secretariat also said.

/MR/

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By 17:03 on 05.03.2024 Today`s news

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