Duty-free shops on Bulgaria's borders with countries that are not members of the European Union will be closed within three months, according to the amendments to the Duty-Free Trade Act (DFTA) passed on March 20 at first reading in Parliament.
The duty-free shops at airports and ports will continue operations. The Government had to decide on the future use of closed sites within a month, according to the amendments bill.
After Bulgaria's accession to the European Union, the Duty-Free Trade Act obliged traders to close or move all its duty-free shops from checkpoints bordering EU member states to similar locations on borders of non-EU member states.
As a result, a total of 19 sites are currently in the process of being changed to Serbia, Macedonia and Turkey. Last year, Bulgaria had 15 shops whose turnover reached 70 million euro, according to data of the Association of Duty-Free Trade Operators.
Parliament is currently reviewing two bills amending the DFTA. According to the first, filed by the opposition, all ground duty-free shops and petrol stations have to be shut down. According to the second bill, filed by the Government, the duty free shops have to be shut down in three months' time, whereas petrol stations on borders will have to close when the billis published in the State Gazette.
Closing down the duty-free shops is fraught with a number of lawsuits against the state, because the amendments do not stipulate any compensations to the duty-free operators, whose licenses will be revoked before they expire.