Ljubljana Wins the Race

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“We know Brussels, Luxembourg, Strasbourg, Frankfurt and now we will also know Ljubljana,” said European Commissioner for Energy, Andris Piebalgs, who compared ACER to the European Central Bank in the field of energy.

However, the scope for adopting binding decisions will be limited, as ACER will solve disputes involving cross-border pipelines and networks if national operators will not be able to agree on a solution. It will also monitor and report on developments in energy markets and create European network rules in order to support the concept of a single EU energy market. ACER will prepare technical decisions on helping electricity and gas circulate freely within the EU, but will not restrict the powers of national regulators.

The agency’s yearly budget will be around EUR 7m; it should be fully operational from March 2011. In the coming months, the location for the agency’s premises will have to be chosen as officials will be moving in by the end of this year. In the meantime, the agency’s head and around 50 experts who will work in ACER will be selected. A small number of Slovenians have good chances of getting technical support jobs in the agency, although they will not be privileged over other Europeans.

Slovenia’s Prime Minister Borut Pahor said that Slovenia put in a lot of effort to bring ACER to Ljubljana. Minister of Economy Matej Lahovnik explained that the decision was a result of the coordinated work of Slovenian diplomacy, the Ministry of the Economy and the personal engagement of the prime minister. He added, however, that getting the agency’s seat involved promising reciprocal support to other similar projects. Because Slovenia is also a candidate for the seat of Galileo, the European satellite navigation agency, his statement indicates that some other country might have better chances of obtaining the seat of this agency.

“We estimated that ACER is going to be so important that we needed to do everything to get it, whereas the situation with Galileo is more complicated, as you will also see in the future. Slovenia gave certain promises in this regard and we will stick to them,” Lahovnik explained.