Bulgarian NGO: Reshuffle at Energy Watchdog Signals Lack of Independence
Ruslan Stefanov, head of the Economic Program at the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), has argued that the dismissal of the Chair of Bulgaria's State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (DKEVR) will be interpreted by the EU as a sign of the lack of independence of the watchdog.
The press office of the Bulgarian government reported Monday that Prime Minister Boyko Borisov planned to propose the removal of Angel Semerdzhiev from the post of DKEVR Chair at the sitting of the Council of Ministers on Wednesday.
Semerdzhiev subsequently made clear that he had filed his resignation over the delayed preparation and adoption of secondary legislation related to the Third Energy Liberalization Package, which caused the European Commission to refer Bulgaria to the Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to fully transpose the EU internal energy market rules.
The EC warned that Bulgaria had only partially transposed the Electricity and Gas Directives and proposed daily penalty of EUR 8488 for each partially transposed Directive.
"What the adopted liberalization package means is that the State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (DKEVR) will become an increasingly important player on the market and the Bulgarian government will have to give up influence over the watchdog," Stefanov said Tuesday in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR).
"I believe that the European Commission and the Council of the European Union are hardly mistaken in saying that there is political influence over the decisions of DKEVR," the expert commented.
"It remains a fact that the Commission is plagued by a lack of serious capacity for price regulation work, which resulted in the accumulation of negative score over the drama surrounding each price change, the saga of the calculation of the renewable energy surcharge, the ambiguities there, the latest central heating bills, etc," the NGO representative stated.
"I think that this reshuffle at DKEVR will be interpreted in Brussels as a sign of the lack of independence of the watchdog," Stefanov added.
The expert suggested that the adoption of the liberalization package would drive energy prices up because they were determined on European markets.
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