The European Commission has found that energy producer Complexul Energetic Hunedoara (CE Hunedoara) received around 60 million euros of incompatible state aid from Romania through four publicly financed loans, according to the European Commission Representation in Bucharest. “Romania now needs to recover the illegal aid plus interest,” reads a press statement released by the representation office on Thursday. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “A government can support a company in financial difficulty if the company has a sound restructuring plan, contributes to the cost of its restructuring and competition distortions are limited. In the case of CE Hunedoara these conditions were not met – we found that the public loans granted by Romania to CE Hunedoara gave the company an unfair economic advantage. This means that the state aid was illegal. Now Romania needs to recover the illegal aid that was granted to the company.” On April 21, 2015, the Commission approved under EU state aid rules temporary rescue aid of 37.7 million euros (167 million lei) to Complexul Energetic Hunedoara (CE Hunedoara), a Romanian state-owned electricity and heat producer. “In the context of this decision, Romania committed to submit a restructuring plan aimed at ensuring the future viability of CE Hunedoara, should the company be unable to pay back the rescue aid in six months’ time. Following the non-repayment of the rescue aid by CE Hunedoara and in the absence of a credible restructuring plan or any real steps towards the liquidation of the company, in March 2018, the Commission opened an in-depth investigation.” During the investigation, the Commission assessed whether five publicly financed or supported loans granted to CE Hunedoara were in line with EU state aid rules. Together, the loans amounted to approximately 73 million euros (337 million lei) as of June 30, 2016. “The Commission concluded that four of the five loans, totalling around 60 million euros plus interest, are incompatible with EU state aid rules and need to be recovered by Romania. The fifth loan constitutes existing aid granted before Romania’s accession to the EU and therefore does not need to be recovered.” The European Commission is fully committed to support Romania in its efforts to reform the energy sector while addressing the socio-economic consequences of the energy transition, according to the press statement. The Initiative for Coal Regions in Transition, launched in December 2017 as part of the “Clean Energy for all Europeans” Package, is designed to facilitate a fair transition in the EU’s coal regions. CE Hunedoara currently owes 547 million euros to various Romanian state bodies, including the five loans subject to the State aid investigation concluded today. The company, which employs around 6,500 people, has been loss-making since 2013 and entered temporarily into formal insolvency proceedings under Romanian law, which have been suspended since January 2016.
The cooperation of Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Romania will make the European Union even stronger, Bulgarian Premier Boyko Borisov said on Friday in Varna at the summit of the four Balkan countries. This meeting format always pursues a common goal, (…) that of increasing transport, infrastructure, and digital connectivity in the European Union. (…) Our friendship is not targeted against the EU, but on the contrary, our cooperation will turn the EU even stronger, Boyko Borisov told a joint press conference delivered with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Romanian Premier Viorica Dancila and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which was translated and released on the Romanian Government’s Facebook page. In his turn, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that the Bulgaria – Serbia – Greece – Romania high-level meeting in Varna, that was also joined by the Israeli Premier, discussed energy connectivity, an aspect of utmost importance for the Balkans. He mentioned that the Timisoara – Pancevo highway was also a subject of talks, given the high importance of rail and road connectivity. Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras said that a joint declaration on transport will be signed following the meeting in Varna, setting out the steps and the calendar for carrying out highly important projects, specifically upgrading the Alexandroupolis – Burgas – Varna rail connection. The construction of a speedway from Alexandroupolis to the region of Maritsa was also discussed, and a working group will be set up to see to the fast implementation of these projects. Opportunities to invest in the regions energy security were also on the agenda of the summit talks, PM Tsipras said. Premier Dancila: I underlined necessity of doing more for Europe’s energy security Prime Minister Viorica Dancila underlined on Friday, in Varna, at the high-level meeting among Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Israel the necessity of doing more for Europe’s energy security, especially through diversifying supply sources and speeding up interconnections. “I had the opportunity of reassessing the stage of the joint projects in the area of transport and energy infrastructure. (…) I underlined the necessity of doing more for Europe’s energy security, especially through diversifying the supply sources and speeding up interconnections. (…) In transport, I reaffirmed Romania’s interest for creating a working group (…) that will analyse the feasibility studies both tied to motorways, and to building new bridges across the Danube, as it is the case of Romania and Bulgaria,” Prime Minister Dancila told a joint press release with Serbian president, Aleksandar Vucic and Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boiko Borisov, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that was posted on the Romanian Government’s Facebook page. According to Prime Minister Dancila, during the discussions there were topics regarding boosting cooperation within the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region. “Next week, we will organize in Bucharest the national EUSDR Forum ( European Union Strategy for the Danube Region), in the context of Romania taking over the EUSDR presidency from Bulgaria. During our mandate we wish to identify the added value of this European strategy to ensure the economic development of social cohesion and for diminishing the regional and territorial development disparities at the European Union’s level. We want the Danube to become an important transport corridor between Western and Eastern Europe. Which is why, it is very important to create a proper framework to ensure seaworthiness on the Danube, throughout the entire year, creating the necessary conditions on the sectors we are managing with the Bulgarian side,” Viorica Dancila showed. She also said that the Varna meeting was a good opportunity for continuing the dialogue “regarding regional cooperation, starting from shared interest in ensuring stability, prosperity and security, objectives that are even more important in the current geopolitical context.” “I reaffirmed Romania’s commitment for building a cohesive and well-integrated region, that will include Balkan states as a premise for a durable growth in the region. (…) I underscored that, for Romania, political cohesion is and must remain the main investment policy at the level of the European Union, contributing significantly to promoting balanced development of member states and regions,” Dancila said. “We are confident the Timisoara – Pancevo speedway project will materialize soon” The project regarding the Timisoara-Pancevo speedway enjoys the political support of both countries involved, Prime Minister Viorica Dancila stated on Friday in Varna, adding that it could materialize in the near future. “The project regarding the Timisoara – Pancevo speedway enjoys the political backing of both countries involved and we are confident that will materialize it in the near future. In technical terms, we have already established the calendar for the re-approval of the feasibility study,” said Prime Minister Dancila at the joint press conference held with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Moreover, Dancila specified that the commercial exchanges between Romania and Serbia have increased constantly over the past years. “The excellent bilateral relation that we have with Serbia – we are soon to celebrate the 140th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2019 – is best reflected in the trade exchanges level, which have constantly increased over the past years. We are confident that the upward trend will maintain, considering the potential offered by both our economies (…). We are looking with optimism towards the year 2021, when Timisoara and Novi Sad will be European Capitals of Culture, which will offer us the occasion to promote some common projects,” said Dancila. She showed that the Serbian President Vucic spoke in Varna about “the challenges facing the European journey of Serbia.” “We are confident that the negotiations will advance at a faster pace, due to our own merits and due to the fact that we met all the commitments and criteria stipulated by the European Union Treaty,” said Dancila. PM Dancila: We want to attract as many investors as possible from Israel to Romania Prime Minister Viorica Dancila said on Friday in Varna that…Read more