Thank you for all your contributions. I was getting fed up with the vague press reports (many badly translated as well). So I ploughed through the protocols to the Act of Accession and the position seems remarkably clear.
Here is what I consider to be the relevant part as published by the Official Journal of the European Union:-
L 157/278 EN Official Journal of the European Union 21.6.2005
List referred to in Article 23 of the Act of Accession: Transitional measures, Bulgaria
3. FREE MOVEMENT OF CAPITAL
Treaty on European Union,
Treaty establishing the European Community.
1. Notwithstanding the obligations under the Treaties on which the European Union is founded, Bulgaria may maintain in force for five years from the date of accession the restrictions laid down in its legislation, existing at the time of signature of the Treaty of Accession, on the acquisition of ownership over land for secondary residences by nationals of the Member States or the States which are a party to the European Economic Area Agreement (EEAA) non-resident in Bulgaria and by legal persons formed in accordance with the laws of another Member State or of an EEAA State.
Nationals of the Member States and nationals of the States which are a party to the European Economic Area Agreement who are legally resident in Bulgaria shall not be subject to the provisions of the preceding subparagraph or to any rules and procedures other than those to which nationals of Bulgaria are subject.
So there you are. The restrictions continue for second homes being bought by non-residents BUT if there is an EU right involved the restrictions fall away at 1am BG local time on 1 January (I know there is debate about the precise time!). Non-Bulgarian EU nationals who are legally resident in BG can then buy land in exactly the same way as Bulgarians.
So what, I hear you ask, is the definition of legal residence? Well a holidaymaker or tourist is clearly not a resident. But anyone who decides to live in BG will be a resident from day 1 - any other approach would be a detraction from the right. Nor can the exercise of the right be delayed pending the issue of official approval, because that is to substitute the state of the official's in-tray and length of lunch break for the provisions of the Treaty.
This is all fairly basic EU legal stuff.
How can you lose the right of residence? Well for that you will have to look at the relevant Directive (EC Directive 2004/38 ) but as I recall the previous ones they provided that continuous absence of up to 6 months did not interrupt residence and that longer absences are allowed with explanation - such as sickness or pregnancy. Longer absence on military service is also allowed. Any decision to revoke a residence permit would also have to attract a right of appeal - again basic EU stuff.
I guess the notaries and district courts will get up to speed on this straight away because if not they will be liable to be sued for breach of community law under the Francovitch principle (the same one that cost the UK taxpayer billions when Parliament tried to stop Spaniards running British registered trawlers). Now it's payback time, unfortunately for the Bulgarians.
Why didn't any of the agents tell us this with all their vaunted in-house lawyers? Is it because they are brain dead or maybe they just prefer to deal with non-residents? Sorry if I offend anyone but I think being forthright often saves time.
A final note - I am pretty sure that the latest Bulgarian law accurately reflects the Treaty, but if it doesn't it's irrelevant as the British tax-payer learned to his cost over the Merchant Shipping Act 1988 (re trawlers).
Final note 2 (!) - Anyone who already owns a property via a company might like to consider disincorporating and taking the property into personal names because the CGT tax breaks are likely to be better and it would be cheaper to do this before any further price rise and before the property revaluation takes place earlier rather than later.
As always, satisfy yourself by taking your own advice.