Bulgaria's Schengen entry is officially blocked
The European Parliament today officially barred Bulgaria from entering the Schengen area next year. Bulgaria's bid was vetoed by the Netherlands and Austria.
Blocking Bulgaria means that Romania will also be excluded, leaving only Croatia on track to join. Dutch and Austrian representatives cited the migrant influx, which Bulgaria is seemingly powerless to contain, as the main factor in their decision.
Earlier, Germany had announced its support for Bulgaria. German Interior Minister Nancy Feser said in Brussels on Thursday that she did not share Austria's opposition to expanding the visa-free travel zone.
"I cannot understand Austria's position in this regard," Feser told reporters ahead of talks with her EU counterparts.
Parliament passes votes on minimum wage and cigarette duty
Parliament has adopted a four-year calendar for cigarettes and other tobacco products which would see incremental increases in excise duty. According to the plan, the excise duty for cigarettes would be BGN 117.5 per 1,000 cigarettes from March 1, 2023; BGN 126 for 1,000 cigarettes from January 1, 2024; BGN 134.5 for 1,000 from January 1, 2025 and BGN 143 for 1,000 from January 1, 2026.
Additionally, MP's voted to stipulate that next year's minimum wage would not be less than 50 percent of the gross average wage. Currently, this would mean a minimum wage of 850 BGN per month.
IT sector protests against tax increases
Business organizations in the IT sector today spoke out against a proposal, currently under discussion in parliament, to increase the maximum tax contribution basis.
Kornelia Ninova, the leader of the BSP, and her colleagues had proposed that the threshold for 2023 for insured income and maximum tax contributions be increased from the current BGN 3,400 to BGN 4,200. The change, although it could also apply to managers in other sectors, would primarily affect the IT sector because that is where most high salaries are earned.
A year ago the Petkov cabinet also raised the maximum threshold, triggering an outcry by the IT sector.