Land Swapping in Eastern Europe

Supporting real estate business in new member states

MET Real Estate
MET Real Estate
Bulgarian MET Real Estate sought our help to guide it through the red tape over EU state aid and environmental politics. It was a multi-disciplinary mandate that required legal, economic and environmental expertise to co-ordinate subtle nuances in state aid law, vis-a-vis the unique context of Bulgarian municipal and commercial structures. MET planned a development that was located in an area protected by the EU Nature Directives. MET had obtained the construction permits in the protected area through the land swapping laws, common in Bulgaria as in other former Communist countries. Alber & Geiger had to convince the European Commission that the circumstances were not to be considered illegal state aid in the aftermath of Bulgaria’s EU accession.

Explaining the past to avoid illegal state aid

ag-wins-map-sofia-brusselsOur methodology assimilated policy and law into a subtle and meticulously engineered lobbying strategy. It had to show the Commission’s experts that on a practical level, with regards to Bulgaria’s distinct post-Soviet municipal architecture, a resolution could be found which did not violate state aid law or inhibit Bulgaria’s legitimate development goals. It used the length and breadth of EU policy fields to put the situation on a macro-European policy context for the European Commission’s experts. It used pragmatic arbitration techniques to create an amicable framework for agreement between the parties. It relied on the socio-economic dynamics of transition in the Bulgarian property market, and subsumed this context into consciousness of the European Commission’s policy. It reconciled the micro-economic considerations of MET Real Estate, with the macro-economic concerns of the European Commission, by building understanding.

Reaching a beneficial settlement

Ultimately we were able to get the Commission, the Bulgarian Government and MET Real Estate, to agree on a settlement that would benefit the internal market and the development needs of the Bulgarian tourism industry. We protected our client from a potentially non-empathetic knee-jerk reaction by the European Commission, which would have had wider implications on the economic health of the region. Most importantly we solved problems before they arose and acted as an indispensable facilitator for institutional relationships.