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Bulgaria

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REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(97) 2008 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 707 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 501 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 701 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1744 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1400 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2003) 676 final - SEC(2003) 1210 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2004) 657 final - SEC(2004) 1199 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2005) 534 final - SEC(2005) 1352 - Not published in the Official Journal]]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 157 of 21.06.05]

SUMMARY

In its July 1997 Opinion, the European Commission considered that Bulgaria needed to step up its efforts in the energy sector in order to prepare for integration. It also had to implement certain international nuclear regimes and make some legislative adjustments in order to comply with the Euratom Treaty. Nuclear safety in particular required continued attention, with rapid implementation of realistic agreed programmes, including the closing-down, where necessary, of problem power stations.

In its November 1998 Report, the Commission considered that Bulgaria had made inadequate progress in this area, in particular as regarded the failure to close certain units of the Kozloduy nuclear power station and inadequate safety.

The October 1999Report noted that Bulgaria had made significant progress in this area but still needed to step up its efforts to be better prepared for integration. In the field of nuclear energy, Bulgaria had failed to comply with one of the Accession Partnership priorities (and its international obligations) concerning the adoption and implementation of a realistic timetable and plan for the closure and decommissioning of units 1 to 4 of the Kozloduy nuclear power station.

In its November 2000 Report, the Commission considered that some progress had been made with restructuring Bulgaria's energy sector in the course of 2000, but that completing this process represented a major challenge. A great deal of secondary legislation still needed to be put in place. Bulgaria had made significant progress in the field of nuclear energy. In November 1999, a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed between the Commission and the Bulgarian Government drawing up a realistic timetable for the early closure of units 1 to 4 of the Kozloduy nuclear power station. This was of prime importance to Bulgaria's accession. Given the implications of these closures, the Commission had offered Bulgaria a multiannual aid package.

In the November 2001 Report, the Commission noted that the restructuring of Bulgaria's energy sector had progressed at a very slow pace throughout 2001 due to delays in the revision of the legislative framework. The Commission felt that the country should step up its efforts to achieve compliance with the Community acquis in this area. Special attention should be paid to preparing for the internal energy market, security of supply and energy efficiency. No progress had been made in the key area of security of supply. The national energy strategy also needed updating. On nuclear safety, the closure of the four non-upgradeable units at Kozloduy was continuing and Bulgaria had taken various steps to fulfil its commitments. Bulgaria had also made progress in strengthening the legislative and regulatory framework for nuclear safety.

The October 2002 Report noted that legislative alignment had advanced, with the adoption of the legislative basis for market opening. The privatisation of distribution companies was in preparation. Parliament adopted a new national energy strategy in July 2002. The strategy lay down the basis for introducing market mechanisms and transforming the sector, including improving Bulgaria's energy efficiency.

The 2003 Report noted that Bulgaria had continued to strengthen its energy sector and to prepare it for meeting EU requirements, including liberalisation, with a view to its future participation in the internal energy market. However, it still had work to do to implement its energy sector restructuring programme, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources, the building-up of oil stocks, nuclear safety and the strengthening of administrative infrastructures.

The 2004 Report indicated that Bulgaria had made steady progress with restructuring the energy sector, in particular as regards privatisation, alignment and administrative capacity with regard to oil stocks, the internal energy market (electricity and gas), solid fuels and nuclear energy. Despite a good level of legal alignment, progress on energy efficiency and renewable energies remained poor.

The October 2005 Report indicated that Bulgaria had met most of its commitments relating to the accession negotiations in the energy sector. However, it was necessary to continue to strengthen administrative structures in the areas concerned, and the country needed to complete the process of building up its oil stocks. Lastly, insufficient progress was being made with opening up the electricity and gas markets, and this process must remain a priority for the future.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 25 April 2005 and accession took place on 1 January 2007.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

The key elements of the energy acquis comprise Treaty provisions and secondary legislation concerning, in particular, competition and State aid, the internal energy market (including the directives on electricity, price transparency, gas and electricity transit, oil and gas, licensing, emergency preparedness, and in particular security stock obligations, nuclear energy, energy efficiency and environmental rules.

The Community acquis in the field of nuclear energy today consists of a framework of regulatory and political instruments, including international agreements. At present, it addresses health and safety issues (in particular, radiation protection), the safety of nuclear installations, the management of radioactive waste, investment, the promotion of research, the establishment of a nuclear common market, and supplies, safeguards and international relations.

The White Paper ("Preparing the associated countries of Central and Eastern Europe for their integration in the internal market of the European Union) stresses, in the section on energy, the need for full application of key internal market directives in combination with European Community competition law. As regards the nuclear sector, the White Paper refers to supply problems, safeguards and shipments of nuclear waste.

EVALUATION

Where energy efficiency and renewables are concerned, price modifications should be an incentive for consumers to start investing in energy efficiency projects and initiatives, as well as for investors to promote the production of renewables. In 2003, Bulgaria adopted its national energy savings programme for 2004-2007. It has also adopted a Law on energy efficiency. This Law, which is a priority for successful integration into the EU, establishes the institutional, legal and financial framework conditions for the implementation of a national energy efficiency policy. However, the Energy Efficiency Agency needs to be strengthened in terms of budget, staff, training and equipment. Bulgaria renewed its participation in the SAVE and ALTENER programmes in 2003. Efforts in this sector need to focus on developing the implementation of an effective long-term national programme.

As regards security of supply, Bulgaria has introduced oil stocks legislation in accordance with the acquis. The level of stocks increased significantly in 2005, and it seems likely that the target of 90 days' consumption will be reached by the end of the transitional period in 2012. In 2003, Bulgaria adopted the Law on mandatory reserves of oil and petroleum products and the Law on national reserves and wartime reserves.

In relation to competitiveness and the internal energy market, legislation and implementing provisions have been introduced for the electricity and gas sectors. The new National Energy and Water Regulatory Commission has the requisite financial independence for attaining its objectives. Investments to improve the distribution network and energy resources are under way, in order to make a full interconnection to the western European electricity networks (UCTE) possible.

The reform of the energy sector and its restructuring, including legal unbundling, the setting-up of a transmission system operator in line with the acquis, and privatisation have progressed. However, Bulgaria needs to speed up the process of legal and practical unbundling for the electricity and gas markets. In particular, the unbundling of Bulgargaz needs to be a priority for the years ahead.

Bulgaria has also signed the Athens Memorandum aiming at the creation of regional electricity and gas markets in South East Europe on the basis of the internal energy market principles. Building the Nabucco gas pipeline is one of the EU's priority projects where the trans-European energy networks are concerned. Bulgaria also continued with the restructuring of the solid fuels sector, including privatisation of three additional mines.

Nuclear power plants in Bulgaria provide a considerable proportion of the country's electricity, and nuclear energy is still an important issue in Bulgaria. Following the agreement signed with the Commission in 1999 which provided for the early closure of the non-upgradeable units (reactors 1 to 4) of the Kozloduy power station, reactors 1 and 2 were shut down for decommissioning in December 2002. Reactors 3 and 4 will also be closed down, in 2006.

In addition, the Commission has instigated a programme of funding from the Tacis Programme and Euratom loans, amongst other sources. Given the social and economic impact the closure of the power plant will have, this financial aid will be directed at other sectors as well as the nuclear sector.

Since the November 2000 Report, Bulgaria has launched various projects to fulfil its commitments regarding closing the four non-upgradeable units at the Kozloduy nuclear power station. Measures include setting up a special unit in the power plant to oversee the process of decommissioning reactors 1 and 2 and constructing a new dry-storage spent-fuel facility on the site. The Bulgarian authorities have also strengthened the legislative framework in this area. Where financing is concerned, Bulgaria has concluded a grant framework agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for the decommissioning of Kozloduy, and a meeting of contributors has been held to approve the first work plan. The modernisation of the two reactors that are to remain operational (units 5 and 6) started in June 2001.

In June 2001, the Council of the European Union adopted a Report on Nuclear Safety in the Context of Enlargement, which reflects the importance attached to this subject in the accession negotiations. This report contains general recommendations for all the candidate countries as well as recommendations specific to individual countries. It will be necessary to continue to ensure that sufficient efforts are made to find longer-term solutions for spent fuel and nuclear waste. The new Law provides for the creation of a State enterprise to deal exclusively with radioactive waste management.

It has also signed an additional protocol to its nuclear safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which entered into force in October 2000. In September 1998, Bulgaria became a signatory to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. A national strategy on this subject has been presented. In 2003, the nuclear regulatory authority (NRA) became a member of the Western European Nuclear Regulators' Association.

However, Bulgaria needs to continue to strengthen its capacity with regard to radioactive waste management and the definition of a clear waste management strategy, identifying the gaps and shortcomings in current management programmes. At the same time, Bulgaria will need to ensure compliance with Euratom requirements and procedures. In this respect, due attention will need to be paid to preparing the implementation of Euratom safeguards, in particular regarding the reporting of nuclear-material flows and inventories drawn up directly by the persons or undertakings operating nuclear installations or storing nuclear materials.

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

 
Last updated: 06.02.2006
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