9th Online Eastern Partnership Workshop

Workshop summary by Daniela Vilic (E-Control)

After a one-year break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are proud to inform you that the 9th Workshop of Eastern Partnership Energy Regulatory Bodies took place on 29 April in videoconference format.

In accordance with the Eastern Partnership (EaP) work programmes, the Council of European Energy Regulators (CEER) and the European Commission (EC) had already jointly organised eight specialised workshops with the energy regulatory bodies from the Eastern Partnership countries. Since 2019, the Energy Community Regulatory Board (ECRB) has also been a co-organiser of the workshop. The overall objective of this workshop is to foster relationships and benefit from exchanging knowledge and experiences.

The audience of the 9th Eastern Partnership workshop included regulatory bodies of the Eastern Partnership countries, regulators from the EU and the Energy Community Contracting Parties, as well as ministry representatives and other bodies.

The newest developments in the Eastern Partnership Initiative and the EU4Energy Phase II Project were presented at the beginning of the Workshop, which consisted of two sessions. The workshop was opened by the EC (Ms Marion Schiller-Probst), CEER (President Annegret Groebel) and the ECRB (President Marko Bislimoski).

The aim of the first session of the workshop was to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the energy sector. Mr Jean-Laurent Lastelle, Commissioner at French Regulator CRE and a Vice President of CEER, set the scene by presenting the results of CEER’s first analysis of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the energy sector. This interim report highlights the pandemic’s effects on the energy market, identifies approaches to protect energy customers, and summarises NRAs’ most important lessons and experiences after one year.

In the tour de table, the regulatory bodies of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine gave an overview of the impact of COVID-19 on the energy sector in the Eastern Partnership countries and of the response to this, discussing challenges and effects on consumers and market players.

In conclusion, it became evident that the experiences of Eastern Partnership countries were similar to those of EU Member States. The COVID-19 crisis brought some challenges as well as opportunities. One regulator reported a drop in budget, which should not negatively affect the independence of NRAs. Others reported delays in the implementation of projects caused by the effects of the pandemic on their organisations and sectors. However, the crisis also had a positive impact: digitalisation was boosted in many different areas and regulatory authorities have gained even more trust.

The second session of the workshop focused on the topic of “Just Transition” and the protection of the vulnerable. A good overview of the concept of the “Just Transition Mechanism” and the “Just Transition Fund” in the EU was provided. Attendees learnt about the potential of “Just Transition” in the Eastern Partnership countries and how these countries are tackling energy poverty and addressing the protection of vulnerable customers. Then, the ECRB Secretariat presented the findings of an ongoing study on addressing energy poverty in the Energy Community Contracting Parties. In summary, it can be said that many initiatives are ongoing in the Eastern Partnership countries.  As in many other countries, a lack of available data slows down the development. Renewable energy sources are becoming more and more important, and a clear trend towards decarbonisation is evident.

The second session was rounded off by the European Investment Bank presenting its perspective on the topic. The correlation between tariffs and energy poverty and the challenge of combining the reduction of tariffs with the efforts of decarbonisation was highlighted.

The agenda and the presentations can be accessed via the following link:  https://www.eap-events.eu/ehome/9th-ws-regulatory-bodies/agenda/

We thank all the speakers and participants for making the 9th Eastern Partnership workshop in virtual format a success.