The Decarbonisation Challenge of Southeast Europe: A Case Study of Romania

As the EU moves towards committing to the decarbonisation of its economy to net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2050, the Southeast European (SEE) member states are still struggling with dysfunctional energy markets, blatantly inadequate long-term planning capabilities and an overwhelming dependency on fossil fuels.

Combined, these factors represent significant impediments to the decarbonisation objectives in the region.

The successful transition towards a low-carbon future in the EU relies on both the acknowledgement of the different starting points of the SEE member states in the decarbonisation process and the resolution of the aforementioned problems. This paper uses Romania as a case study to illustrate the SEE situation.

First, this article briefly summarises the general European context and the framework through which member states will cooperate in the area of energy policy. Second, it showcases the energy and climate strategies of Romania. Third, it turns to some of the main barriers that the country is currently facing in reforming its energy markets.

Barriers to the reform of the Romanian energy markets – For all its natural resources, well-balanced energy mix and low import dependence, the Romanian energy sector is presently in disarray, facing multiple challenges to its various subsystems: energy production, infrastructure and market mechanisms. Among the most important issues are the deficit of power generation, the crisis of the country’s coal-fi red power generation, the uncertain prospect of the gas finds in the Black Sea, a failing district heating in Bucharest and other major cities, and a strained business model of the electricity and gas distribution companies. The underlying causes of these problems are erratic policymaking, weak institutional capacity and poor long-term planning. This paper focuses on the first two of the enumerated problems as the more urgent ones

The final part of the article summarises the findings, while also suggesting some avenues that may be pursued to overcome the challenges of decarbonisation in SEE.

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