On 28 April 2011 the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) organized a round table on Bulgaria’s energy security in light of the experience of new EU member states from Central Europe.
Dr. Ognian Shentov, Chairman, Center for the Study of Democracy, opened the discussion noting that the public debate on energy choices in Bulgaria focuses too much on technical issues at the expense of security aspect. Dr. Shentov noted that Bulgaria is lagging behind in the governance of the energy sector and that it should make a better use of available EU instruments.
Mr. Andras Deak, Research Director, Center for EU Enlargement Studies, Hungary, pinpointed three issues concerning energy security: (i) a country’s dependency is not only a quantitative matter, but also concerns the nature and the perception of the relationship; (ii) energy dependency is a matter of management; (iii) in the energy sector it is often the case that one country cannot act singlehandedly. Mr. Deak identified the low quality of national energy policies, the lack of coordination in energy planning, the low management capabilities, and the lack of regional harmonization as the key challenges that Bulgaria is facing in the energy field. He concluded that Bulgaria can still catch up to other European countries, such as the Visegard group (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia) in terms of its energy policy.
Ambassador Boyko Noev, Senior Fellow, European Program, Center for the Study of Democracy, underlined that the debate and the sense of urgency about energy security has been present in Bulgaria long before the Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute. He emphasized the complexity of the energy security question due to important geopolitical considerations for Bulgaria. He warned that Russian influence in Bulgaria effectively affects the strategic orientation of political decision-making in the country.
Mr. Ilian Vassilev, Former Ambassador of Bulgaria to Russia, presented the case for a sober look on Bulgaria’s energy sector – one that is not based on a pro- vs. anti-Russian sentiments. According to ambassador Vassilev, the future of the energy sector is not in over-centralized structures but in consumer choice and multiple solutions in terms of demand. Among the major problems identified was the lack of independent expertise in the Bulgarian energy sector and, thus, the inability of the Bulgarian consumer to make informed choices.
Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Director, Economic Program, Center for the Study of Democracy, reiterated the importance of the quality of governance of the national energy sector, noting that good governance cannot be constituted with technical or market solutions. Thus, it is critical to have a clear political vision and a greater transparency in decision-making, with the respective clarity on who makes the decisions, what is the basis for these decisions, and who is responsible for their implementation.
Agenda (Adobe PDF, 28 KB)
Presentation by Mr. Andras Deak, Research Director, Center for EU Enlargement Studies, Hungary (Adobe PDF, 515 KB)
Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)