The present paper discusses the role and responsibilities that Romania will have during its 2019 Presidency of the Council of the EU, as well as the opportunities and means that the Presidency offers Romania to advance its own energy policy priorities. While the EU agenda is largely set by the President of the European Council along with government leaders, the rotating Presidency is diacritical in implementing the agenda. In effect, Romania will have the tasks of representing the Council in relations with the other EU institutions in negotiations on legislative files, and of organizing and chairing meetings in different Council configurations and preparatory bodies.
Member states holding the presidency work close together in groups of three called trios. Romania will be in trio with Finland and Croatia. They ought to agree on long-term policy goals that are to be promoted in addition to what is already set as EU agenda. As such, matters of regional relevance can be promoted within the trio.
Three line of energy policy stand out as particularly suitable to be promoted by Romania during its EU Presidency: protection of vulnerable consumers and mitigation of energy poverty based on competitive, energy markets and targeted social aid; energy efficiency; and promotion of digital energy. In order to be able to make a solid case for its priorities, Romania must prepare a robust and persuasive draft of the National Energy and Climate Plan for 2021-2030, which must be submitted by the end of 2018. The Plan must be consistent with EU laws and long-term commitments, and also delineate areas of substantive regional cooperation.
The UK is expected to leave the EU during the Romanian Presidency. Right after the presumed British departure, a special summit will take place in Sibiu, Romania, on 30 March 2019, with expectations to forge a more cohesive Union. Finally, the fact that the Romanian Presidency will fall in the period of elections for the European Parliament may offer Romanian some more room to advertise its priorities.