Hurdles in the Path of Romanian Gas Market Liberalization

The Romanian Government presented the Parliament in September 2014 with a Decision to postpone gas market liberalization for households by two and a half years, until 1 July 2021.

The initial deadline of 31 December 2018 was agreed upon in 2012 by the first government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta along with the Troika of international lenders: the European Commission (EC), the International Money Fund and the World Bank.

The 2018 calendar was supposed to bring a 3% increase in household gas prices as of 1 October 2014, as a first step towards timely liberalization.In light of the burden that would have thus fallen on households ahead of presidential elections held in December, the Government, through its Department of Energy, requested this delay. The motivation given by the Energy Minister was that while the average salary has dropped 1% in the past two years, the price of gas has increased by 16% in the same timeframe.

Though the Parliament approved the move, what lacked was a written approval by the European Commission, despite the Energy Minister’s reassurance that it will be obtained, following discussions with former Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger at the end of August on the occasion of the inauguration of the Iaşi-Ungheni Interconnector. The conclusion of the talks was, however, only one-sidedly confirmed in a letter sent on September 4 by the Department for Energy to Mr. Oettinger.

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