Sunday, February 25, 2007

EU Environmental Requirements Weigh on Bulgaria

Source: An EU directive pits environmentalists against developers in Bulgaria -

The EU requires all new members to submit a list of locations that the country will designate for environmental protection. Bulgaria’s list was due January 1, but was delayed as the government tried to seek consensus among environmentalists and residents. Environmental groups commissioned by the Bulgarian government recommended protection for almost forty percent of the country’s territory, which includes a lot of undeveloped land and Black Sea coastline

When the Bulgarian government approved its list recently, everyone was upset. Environmentalists objected to the exclusion of half of their recommended sites—especially coastal and mountain sites destined to become tourist resorts. Residents, mindful of an era of forced collectivization, are outraged at the intrusions into their private property rights. While the Bulgarian legislation would provide up to €200 per year per hectare (2.5 acres) to landowners as compensation, mostly funded by the EU, these amounts pale in comparison to the €1.5 million per hectare market value of plaaned resort areas.


Where should Bulgaria, one of the EU’s poorest and least developed countries, draw the line between environmental protection and development? Should Bulgaria be expected to withhold forty percent of its land from future development? Does the EU requirement unfairly infringe on landowner rights? Should the EU be required to help countries provide fair market value compensation to affected homeowners?

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