November 2023 – On Friday 27 October 2023, GEO 91/2023, regarding certain measures related to the exercise of the state's public and private property rights, as well as the efficient administration of state properties and the amendment of some normative acts (“GEO 91/2023”), entered into force.
Among others, by means of GEO 91/2023, long-criticised measures that substantially favour state entities and national interest projects have been enacted.
The main amendments brought by GEO 91/2023 with potential high impact on the renewable energy sector:
- It is now easier for state entities to develop projects located outside a buildable area for surfaces exceeding 50 ha and for national interest objectives specific to the production of electricity from renewable sources, when these objectives are located on plots of land from public and private domain of the state and in the administration of the Agency of State Domain (“ASD”), having the quality of classes IV and V. For these objectives, the removal of lands from the agricultural circuit will operate automatically (through the effect of the normative act, by which the investment objectives are declared to be of national interest), without having to follow the standard procedure.
- Entities in which the Romanian state is the sole or the majority shareholder will have the right of direct concession (by bypassing the tender and public procurement rules) over lands in the public and private domain of the state for projects of strategic interest and national security in the energy field and investment projects in energy infrastructure of national interest.
- State-owned entities and local and central public administration authorities will also be able to conclude superficies agreements regarding certain types of land located in the public or private domain of the state for the purpose of producing electricity from renewable sources and for the implementation of infrastructure projects with financing from non-reimbursable external funds.
Despite the numerous attempts of private investors to highlight the anti-competitive impact of such legislation and its non-compliance with EU rules (with industry voices raising concerns about its discriminatory effects, distorting competition on the market and potentially amounting to unlawful state aid), it seems that the government has decided to adopt such a fast-track procedure, which clearly favours state-owned entities and public authorities in the development of Romania’s renewables energy sector, leaving the private sector to continue to struggle with the multiple legislative inconsistencies and restrictive interpretations of various authorities—which continues to delay the development of large-scale renewables projects in Romania.