Protest at CE Oltenia, the government supports the continuation of the dialogue with the European Commission

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Bogdan Tudorache

CE Oltenia (CEO) employees protested on Monday, calling for the adoption by Parliament as soon as possible of the project to reduce the retirement age for companies producing electricity and heat undergoing restructuring plans.

“Most employees have medical problems caused by various occupational diseases, which shorten their lives and they no longer reach retirement age, and those who do, spend most of their time in hospitals, due to these occupational diseases acquired during work at the CEO. In the Romanian Parliament there is a project to reduce the retirement age in companies producing electricity and heat undergoing a restructuring plan. We request the emergency approval, in the form negotiated with the social partners,” said Nicu Bunoaica, the president of the Solidarity Trade Union 2013 Motru, quoted by the local press.

The union also called for the company’s alignment “with the operating conditions that the European Union requires in terms of environmental protection, and this can only be done through the contribution of technology that does not pollute the environment and does not endanger human health.”

The European Commission announced last week that it has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the support measures provided by the Romanian authorities to the company comply with EU rules on state aid granted to companies in difficulty.

However, the Romanian authorities claim that “the initiation of the investigation procedure is a procedural step in the case analysis, which allows the EC to assess in more detail the issues considered sensitive at this time, in terms of European state aid rules. The Government and the Competition Council will continue the dialogue with the European Commission on this complex issue. Given that by the end of April, CEO must purchase the greenhouse gas emission certificates for 2020, it is particularly important to obtain the agreement of the European forum for the payment of aid for this purpose. For non-compliance with the obligation to purchase certificates, a penalty of 100 euro/certificate is applied.”

The government granted CE Oltenia (CEO), in February 2020, a rescue aid in the amount of 251 million euro, consisting of a temporary contribution of liquidity in the form of a loan, necessary to save the company in economic and financial difficulty. The aid was authorized by the European Commission in the same month, with the company being required to submit a restructuring plan or repay the money within 6 months.

Romania submitted to the European Commission the restructuring plan of the company, which stretches over a period of 5 years and includes technical and organizational measures, closure or conservation of production capacities, investment measures, organizational and financial measures, environmental protection measures, staff restructuring, totaling 3,537.6 million euro. For the implementation of the restructuring plan, the CEO is to benefit from a grant from budgetary funds amounting to 1,326.7 million euro, to which 711 million euro add up from the EU Modernization Fund.

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