GEO 114/2018 triggered two new infringement files against Romania; deadlines are close

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Of the 65 active infringement files of Romania at the European Commission, 15 refer to violations of EU law in the fields of environment and climate policies, and six files concern the energy field directly. Two were launched in 2019, following the adoption and implementation of the Government Emergency Ordinance (GEO) 114 of December 2018. Both refer to the impact of GEO 114 in the natural gas sector.

The Commission calls on Romania to remove the barriers to natural gas exports; in this regard, it sent an additional reasoned opinion to Romania because it did not remove the restrictions imposed on trade in natural gas between the Member States, as provided for in the EU rules on the internal market in the natural gas sector (Articles 35 and 36 of the Treaty on Functioning European Union, TFEU; Directive 2009/73 / EC). The first reasoned opinion in this case dates from July 2014. After evaluating the recent changes to the energy legislation adopted by Romania, the Commission found that the obligation to sell natural gas with priority on the Romanian market is maintained, which represents a violation of EU law. The Commission considers that the current Romanian legal framework, by imposing on the Romanian producers the obligation to give priority to sales on the domestic market, creates unjustified barriers to gas exports from Romania and, therefore, called for these barriers to be eliminated.

“The European Commission has suggested that we develop an 18-month price deregulation schedule. I hope that such a calendar will be included in the laws that will be adopted by the Parliament following the amendment of GEO 114 and GEO 19”, declared Dumitru Chiriță, president of ANRE, in a meeting with the press. In his opinion, GEO 114/2018 and GEO 19/2019, which amends the first act, should be discussed together in parliamentary committees, otherwise confusion would arise. Also, the calendar of deregulation must be doubled by the definition of the vulnerable consumer, accompanied by a methodology of protection for vulnerable consumers, respectively the status, the way of identification and financing, said Chiriță.

Romania has the possibility to respond to the arguments presented by the Commission, until September 26, otherwise the Commission may decide to refer the file the EU Court of Justice. “By September 26, the Commission is waiting for new legislation enacted or a concrete project to amend the legislation, depending on which it can grant a 90-day extension,” said ANRE Vice-President Zoltan Nagy-Bege.

As early as March 7, 2019, the Commission had opened another infringement file on the failure to properly enforce certain requirements of the Gas Directive (Directive 2009/73 / EC) and the Gas Supply Security Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2017/1938]. These instruments aim to ensure competitiveness in EU gas markets, while guaranteeing the safe supply of households and other customers in need of special protection. Following the analysis of the legislative measures adopted by Romania in December 2018 (GEO 114), the Commission found that the newly regulated wholesale pricing system introduced on the Romanian gas market is contrary to the EU legal requirements. The Commission also considers that these measures are not appropriate for achieving the objective of protecting domestic consumers against excessive price increases in a sustainable manner.

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