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Slovakia fails to adopt EU energy rules

SLOVAKIA has not yet transposed the European Union’s so-called Third Energy Package into its national legislation after parliament rejected one of the key bills a month before the March 10 election. The deadline to adopt the necessary legislation was early March 2011 but Slovakia and seven other EU countries have not brought their national legislation in line with the EU regulations. In late February the European Commission gave Slovakia two additional months to pass the appropriate legislation and threatened to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice if this is not accomplished.

Martin Chren (left) voting on the legislation. (Source: TASR)

SLOVAKIA has not yet transposed the European Union’s so-called Third Energy Package into its national legislation after parliament rejected one of the key bills a month before the March 10 election. The deadline to adopt the necessary legislation was early March 2011 but Slovakia and seven other EU countries have not brought their national legislation in line with the EU regulations. In late February the European Commission gave Slovakia two additional months to pass the appropriate legislation and threatened to refer the matter to the European Court of Justice if this is not accomplished.

“Opening energy markets for competition is a key to competitiveness of the EU economy as a whole,” stated the European Commission on February 27 as it issued a warning to all eight countries that had failed to transpose the energy regulations. “An efficient, interconnected and transparent European internal energy market will also offer consumers a choice between different companies supplying gas and electricity and will make the market accessible to all suppliers.”

The deadline to transpose the electricity and gas regulations of the Third Energy Package into national legislation was March 3, 2011. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Romania and Slovakia have not passed either of the two regulations and Estonia has not dealt with the regulation on natural gas in its national legislation, the EC press release stated.

Subsequently the EC sent reasoned opinions to the eight countries and urged them to comply with their obligations to the EU. The EC’s press release stated that the eight countries have two months – until late April – to comply or the EC may refer the violations to the Court of Justice.

The Slovak parliament considered several bills to transpose the Third Energy Package into national legislation on February 2 but legislators rejected the so-called energy bill in its third and final reading and economy minister Juraj Miškov from Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party then withdrew the corollary bill on regulation. The purpose of the EU’s Third Energy Package is to further liberalise European electricity and gas markets, improve choices and prices for consumers, and boost the powers and independence of energy regulators.

Miškov called parliament’s failure to pass the legislation a “black day for Slovak consumers”, stating that “both the bill on energy and the bill on network industry regulation were strongly pro-consumer and pro-people pieces of legislation”, the SITA newswire reported.

The minister blamed the failure on MPs from the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) who did not support the legislation. MP Martin Chren, Miškov’s parliamentary colleague from SaS, hinted that SDKÚ’s position was an act of political revenge against the economy minister for proposing the dismissal of Anna Bubeníková, an SDKÚ nominee, as the head of the country’s National Property Fund after the so-called Gorilla file suggested that she had acted as an intermediary between the Penta financial group and various political figures.

Ivan Štefanec, an MP from SDKÚ, told the EurActiv website that he had abstained from the February 2 vote, stating that even though adoption of the Third Energy Package would be a step forward, the implementing legislation had not been prepared well.

In February 2011, the heads of governments of EU states stated that the union needed to create a single, internal energy market by 2014 and that timely and complete transposition of the EU regulations was crucial. The Third Energy Package includes several key provisions for the functioning of the EU energy market, including new rules on unbundling of networks, rules that strengthen the independence and powers of national regulators, and regulations to improve retail markets for the benefit of end consumers.

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