EU Court: Indebted Bulgarians Free to Travel AbroadBulgaria in EU | October 5, 2012, Friday // 11:39| views
The Court of Justice interprets EU law to make sure it is applied in the same way in all EU countries. File photo
Bulgaria does not have the right to restrict the freedom of movement, within the European Union, of its nationals solely on the ground that they have debts to private persons, the European Union Court of Justice has ruled.
Judges at the Luxembourg-based EU Court of Justice (ECJ) delivered on Thursday their verdict in the case of applicant Hristo Byankov, whose freedom of movement was restricted because of debt he owed to a private legal person.
On 17 April 2007 an order was imposed on Hristo Bryankov, containing a prohibition on leaving Bulgarian territory and on the issuing of passports or replacement documents.
At the request of a private bailiff, that measure was taken against Mr Byankov by the Director of the Regional Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior on account of BGN 200 000 of debt, owed to a Bulgarian private legal person.
In its statement, the Court of Justice of the European Union points out that it has already had occasion to rule on the compatibility with European Union law of measures consisting in a prohibition on leaving the territory imposed by a member state on one of its nationals because he owes a tax debt classified under national law as 'considerable'.
In the present reference for a preliminary ruling the Court was requested to rule in a situation in which the debt is owed not to the national exchequer but to a private legal person.
Under European Union legislation measures taken on grounds of public policy or public security shall be based exclusively on the personal conduct of the individual concerned, the judges in Luxembourg point out.
Besides member states can not invoke public policy, public security or public health to serve economic ends.
In its ruling the court says that the European Union law must be interpreted as precluding the application of a national provision which provides for the imposition of a restriction on the freedom of movement, within the European Union, of a national of a Member State, solely on the ground that he owes a legal person governed by private law a debt which exceeds a statutory threshold and is unsecured.
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