Legal Affairs Committee Rejects Proposal for Referendum on Bulgarian Currency

The Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee rejected Wednesday a proposal for a national referendum on the question “Do you agree for the Bulgarian lev to be the only official currency in Bulgaria until 2043?”. Representatives from Continue the Change – Democratic Bulgaria and Movement for Rights and Freedoms voted against the proposal, while Vazrazhdane, BSP for Bulgaria and There Is Such a People voted in favour. GERB-UDF’s representatives abstained.

Vazrazhdane MP Deyan Nikolov, who is a spokesperson of the Initiative Committee for the referendum, said Bulgaria moved to make a decision on joining the eurozone without a public consultation. He argued that if Bulgaria adopts the euro now, it will endanger the country’s economy and the euro area as a whole. Nikolov added that the request for a referendum was backed by 470,000 signatures.

Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) Governor Dimitar Radev pointed out that the proposal is in conflict with national legislation, as the latter does not feature the term “official currency” and the term “single official currency” is in conflict with the currency law. Establishing the BGN as the sole official currency would eliminate payment in other currencies and suspend exchange controls, he explained. Radev added that there has not been a single case in the European Union and euro area history where a country that is already part of the banking union, and is in the euro area’s waiting room, has organized a referendum on whether or not it should take the final step towards accession.

The BNB governor noted that the act of organizing such a referendum, regardless of the outcome, could seriously crack the consensus among euro area members for Bulgaria’s accession.

Vazrazhdane leader Kostadin Kostadinov said that the referendum was not about postponement but about setting a date. He disagreed with the argument that there was a collision with the legislation, pointing out that the wrong expressions in the question could be edited to suit the conditions. “If any MP has a reason to claim that the question does not meet the requirements of the law, please let him refer it to the Constitutional Court, he has that right,” Kostadinov stated.

Continue the Change MP Yavor Bozhankov commented that the referendum is illegal and contradicts the Constitution. “This is a referendum not against the euro, but against Europe,” he stressed.