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The forum was attended by 13 government institutions, 55 companies, 6 universities, 22 non-governmental and professional organizations and 14 representatives of diplomatic missions in Bulgaria

The role of national energy regulators is important because their decisions in the energy sector have a key impact on the economic and social development of the countries concerned. Interaction and exchange of good practices among them contribute to the implementation of established regulatory mechanisms based on the principles of transparency, feasibility and compliance of legality. That was stated by EWRC Chairman Assoc. Prof. Ivan Ivanov, PhD at the International Conference "Regulatory Framework Harmonization in South-East Europe". Bulgarian energy regulator hosted the event, together with the Energy Management Institute. The conference was attended by members of the Bulgarian regulator, chairmen and members of the management boards of 13 regulatory authorities, national, regional and European institutions, Bulgarian and foreign companies, NGOs, foreign embassies, universities, EURELECTRIC, heads of employers' organizations, experts of the Agency for cooperation of energy regulators (ACER) and SEE CAO.

In his welcoming address to the participants in the Conference EWRC Chairman outlined the steps of the Bulgarian regulator, which in the past year contributed to the financial stabilization of the energy sector. Thanks to the justified pricing decisions the overcoming of NEK tariff deficit is presently a fact. Leveling free and regulated market obligation to society" surcharge, resulted in reaching fair distribution of burdens among all end users. Assoc. Prof. Ivanov stressed that the adoption by the Commission of Electricity Market Rules has contributed to the launch of the power exchange. Rules on switching and standardized load profiles have been established and since April 1 there are no obstacles for households to participate in the free market, if they wish to do so. Main objective of the Regulator is to achieve full energy market liberalization, which will allow electricity prices to be determined solely by supply and demand under competition conditions and not by administrative means, said Assoc. Prof. Ivanov. The clearing of tariff distortions in heat and electricity prices also stands on the Regulators agenda and the definition of the criteria for energy-vulnerable consumers likewise, explained EWRC Chairman. According to him, liberalization process success can be ensured only if a comprehensive package of measures to protect vulnerable consumers is undertook and Bulgarian institutions work hard on that issue together with the European Commission and the World Bank. The creation of a roadmap with concrete steps and timelines for full electricity market liberalization and the neighbouring energy markets coupling were mentioned as an important immediate task of the Regulator in the coming months. The roadmap will facilitate the whole liberalization process structuring and liberalization is a key tool for creating a competitive environment, for achieving stability of energy companies and sustainable regulatory framework, said Assoc. Prof. Ivan Ivanov.

In her speech at the Conference, Minister of Energy Temenuzhka Petkova praised the activities of Bulgarian energy regulator in the last year, thanks to which the energy sector reform has started and it is a fact. She expressed her confidence that the independent regulator has an important contribution to the full market liberalization process and stressed that the Government closely links this process with the adoption of the planned package of measures to protect vulnerable consumers.

The role of the pricing model applied by the new EWRC members last year in order to eliminate the tariff deficit of the Public Provider and to recover the energy sector was the accentuation in the statement of the Parliamentary Energy Committee Chairman Delyan Dobrev at the Conference. He said that by levelling the "obligation to society" surcharge for all end users the Commission has changed the energy pricing model in a fair manner, thus immediate energy sector problems have been solved.

Within the Conference panel discussions participants discussed the ongoing energy reforms in Southeast Europe, the changing regulatory environment, market liberalization process, legal and regulatory framework harmonization in the context of the Energy Union. In the first panel discussion on the energy market status-quo, current initiatives in the energy field at EU level and their regional impact, participants were Lubo Mačić - President of the Council of the Energy Agency of the Republic of Serbia, Dr. Sotirios Manolkidis, Vice President of the Energy Regulatory Authority of Greece, Hans ten Berge, Secretary General of Eurelectric, Sasho Donchev, Chairman of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Alberto Biancardi, Member of the Board of the Regulatory Authority for electricity, gas and water of Italy. In the second panel Regulatory practices, efforts and barriers to harmonization and unification of the regulatory framework in the SEE region" introductory statement was made by Mrs. Nina Grall, Head of the Energy Community Regulatory Board Section, Energy Community Secretariat. In the panel discussion participants were Attila Nyikos, Vice President International Relations, Hungarian Energy and Public Utilities Authority, Dietmar Preinstorfer, Head of International Relations at the Austrian Energy Regulator, E-CONTROL, Olivier Marquette, Managing Director of AES Bulgaria, Alexander Mijuskovic, CEO of SEE CAO.

The large number of registered representatives was indicative of the interest in the International Conference - 35 participants from 13 governmental agencies, 110 participans from 55 companies, 24 participants from 14 foreign embassies, 17 participants from six country universities, 34 participants from 22 NGOs and branch organizations. The forum was reported by 51 journalists from 29 Bulgarian and foreign media.