Independent MP Martin Chren (NOVA) has filed a motion at the Constitutional Court on July 2 over a law in May concerning the sale of agricultural land. The motion has been signed by 33 Opposition MPs.

“The recently adopted bill sponsored by Agriculture [and Rural Development] Minister Ľubomír Jahnátek is one of the worst ever to leave the Slovak parliament,” Chren said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “According to our analysis, altogether it violates up to seven articles of the constitution.”

The new Act on Land Transfer, according to Chren, limits the rights of Slovak citizens to sell agricultural land. “When selling, they must complete bureaucratically challenging tasks and give priority to farmers with permanent residence registered in a village or town near the land in question,” said Chren. He added that the law makes land inaccessible to ordinary people and small farmers, but a profit-making commodity for companies and big entrepreneurs, the SITA newswire wrote.

The new law will also lead to a reduction in land values. He believes that this will help financial groups and big businessmen to be able to buy up large portions of Slovak land at low prices. "It also doesn't prevent the sale of land to foreigners, because despite the adoption of this law, businesses can sell the bought land by the transfer of shares in their company,” argued Chren.

Opposition MPs are convinced that the bill significantly restricts the property rights of landowners. The opposition also sees a significant distortion in the market economy, on which the Slovak economy is based according to the Constitution.

The criticised bill stipulates that owners who are about to sell agricultural plots of more than one-fifth of a hectare have to offer the land to agricultural entities in the given town or village first. At the same time, these entities should have been active in agriculture for at least three years. If the seller can’t find a buyer in their own town or village, they must then offer the land to entities from neighbouring towns or villages. If they don’t succeed with this either, agricultural entities from the rest of Slovakia are given a chance. If no domestic buyer is found, then the land can be sold to any entity from the EU.

(Source: TASR, SITA)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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