The role of the national regulatory authorities in the EU energy market after 2020 in the context of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package and creation of a workable Energy Union were the highlights of the Conference held in the European Parliament. The forum took place on 27 September 2017 in Brussels and EWRC delegation, led by the EWRC Commissioner Evgenia Haritonova participated in it. Experts from the specialized administration departments of the Bulgarian regulator were also a part of the delegation.
The Conference in the European Parliament was organized with the assistance and support of the Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Regional Development Iskra Mihaylova, which was also one of the speakers. Statements on separate topics were made by the chairmen of the European Parliament committees, heads of European Commission units , the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) and of the Council of European Energy Regulators (CEER).
The Vice President of the European Commission Maros Sefcovic outlined the main priorities of the Еnergy Union in a video message to the participants. "There's no way this event to be more timely," he said, and informed that the European Commission has already made its major proposals for structural reforms in the European energy market and the crucial phase of discussions with the European Parliament is currently under way.
The Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Jerzy Buzek presented the progress report on the "Сlean energy for All Europeans" Package. He stressed that the main priority of the package is focused on the energy consumers rights and pointed out the important role that Bulgaria will have when discussing the proposals holding the EU Council rotating presidency.
Speaking at the Conference, the head of the EWRC delegation Evgenia Haritonova outlined the development of the electricity sector in Bulgaria towards full liberalization, as well as measures for the protection of vulnerable energy consumers. She presented an analysis of the structure and the state of the Bulgarian electricity market and stressed the important role of the Bulgarian Energy Exchange as a factor to trade on market principles and at competitive terms. Evgenia Haritonova indicated the long –term power purchase agreements, the status of the NEК as a single buyer, regulated electricity prices and high percentage of vulnerable energy consumers as the main challenges for the full liberalization of the Bulgarian electricity market. In order to protect the vulnerable consumers the Bulgarian State, in collaboration with the European Commission and the World Bank, has developed a package of measures, which include both financial and non-financial instruments, she added. For the purpose of full liberalization of the electricity market, by the end of 2017 legislative changes are to be voted on, to develop a new market model and to approve legal measures for the protection of vulnerable consumers. The adoption of a roadmap for the gradual phasing out of regulated electricity prices over the next few years is also on the agenda. Regarding the functions of the energy regulator after full market liberalization, Evgenia Haritonova pointed out that they will cover the licensing of market participants, monitoring the execution of the license obligations, determining network tariffs and the "public obligation" price, monitoring and control of the electricity market, including the investigation of possible market manipulation.
In the second thematic conference panel dedicated to the strengthening of the role of national regulatory authorities on cross-border level, the Director of the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators Alberto Pototschnig presented the new competence of the organization, and the Vice President of the Council of European energy regulators Marie-Pierre Fauconnier outlined the challenges the national regulatory authorities were facing. The Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Regional Development Iskra Mihaylova also delivered a report, where she addressed the impact of cross-border energy cooperation on the development of border regions.