The Directorate-General for Energy within the European Commission invited the President of the Committee for Industries of the Chamber of Deputies, Iulian Iancu, in a letter in which it asks him to reconsider the amendments adopted to the Emergency Ordinance for gas price liberalization for producers, to a meeting on drawing up the future Network Codes. The meeting, which would be organized on 8-9 June, would be attended, besides the representatives of DG Energy, by officials of the Romanian Ministry of Energy, of Transgaz and of the National Regulatory Authority for Energy (ANRE).
The letter criticizes the amendments adopted in the Committee led by Iancu to GEO 64, adopted by Ciolos Government, a normative act praised by the signatory of the letter, the Director of the Directorate for the Internal Energy Market of the European Commission, Klaus-Dieter Borchardt. The European official claimed he has written to the Romanian parliamentarian upon his request. During a meeting of the Committee for Industries in which the controversial amendments were discussed, according to Borchardt, Iancu asked EC representative to the debates, Benedikt Klauser, to provide a point of view of the Commission regarding those amendments. That after the same Iulian Iancu told on 21 March the General Director of DG Energy, Dominique Ristori, his intention to amend the GEO, during a meeting held by them with officials of the Government of Romania.
Among the amendments criticized by Borchardt thre is the obligation imposed to producers to trade the entire production on the centralized markets. In his opinion, if the percentage of 30% of production that has to be traded on the centralized markets, provided by Ciolos Ordinance, was aimed at boosting these markets, which for now don't prove too much liquidity, the amendment of the Social-Democrat "a may be excessive and may have unintended consequences on market functioning", especially today, given that "the technical preconditions for effective trading, such as the full implementation of gas Network Codes, are not yet in place".
With regards to the monopoly for the operation of markets given to the state-owned operator OPCOM (managed by Transelectrica), the European official believes that this is not recommended in view of the more liquid trading environment currently provided by BRM. Profit.ro reported that from the beginning of the year to date no less than 81% of gas in the centralized markets was traded on BRM, the operator which Iulian Iancu wants to eliminate from the market. "Indeed, while concentrating liquidity on one trading place may have beneficial effects on market functioning, it needs to be balanced with the interest of allowing for competition among trading platforms, which in itself may also contribute to improving conditions for efficient and liquid gas trading in Romania. Moreover, the granting of such exclusive rights to OPCOM may also pose competition law concerns", the head of Directorate for Internal Energy Markets of the European Commission claims.
Borchardt criticized another amendment: the one regarding the temporary suspension of gas exports in crisis situations. It violates 2 articles of the European Directive 73/2009 and an article of the Regulation 94/2010. Regarding the amendments aimed to regulate the organization and activity of the balancing market, the European official warns the Romanian parliamentarian that, according to the European legislation, they are exclusive competence of ANRE, which has to comply with the technical rules set out under Regulation 312/2014 of the Commission establishing a Network Code on Gas Balancing of Transmission Networks (BAL NC).
To conclude, Borchardt "recommends" the Social-Democrat parliamentarian to reconsider the "amendments proposed", in the context of "problems found". Interestingly, the amendments criticized by the European Commission were adopted by the Committee for Industries of the Chamber of Deputies on 17 April, the day after the letter was sent. Under these amendments, the Committee led by Iulian Iancu decided that transactions on the wholesale gas market be managed by a single operator and gas producers will be required to trade the entire production on the centralized market.
The amendments proposed by the Committee for Industries of the Chamber of Deputies substantially change the GEO adopted by Ciolos Government, which will cause confusion among parliamentarians who will vote the law adopting the GEO in the plenary. If the amendments brought by Iulian Iancu are not approved, but they agree with the provisions of the Ordinance, they are confronted with a dilemma: either they vote in favor and, implicitly for the Committee's amendments, or against and thus they reject not only the amendments, but also the GEO. Because the amendments cannot be changed in the plenary, voting only on the committee's report, i.e. the GEO including the amendments.