Bulgaria’s National Assembly has overturned President Roumen Radev’s veto on amendments to the country’s Energy Act.
There were 133 votes in favour of overriding the veto, from GERB-UDF, We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, and 49 against, from Vuzrazhdane, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and ITN.
As The Sofia Globe reported at the time, Radev said on October 19 that he had vetoed amendments, approved by Parliament on October 5, which envision the liberalisation of the household consumers segment of the electricity market in 2026.
His motives included that the transition period between the current state of affairs, in which electricity prices are fully regulated, and the full liberalisation of the segment is too short.
He did not agree with the introduction of full liberalization of the electricity market for household consumers without clear mechanisms on how the energy poor will be compensated.
According to Radev, the models that are currently offered do not cover all vulnerable groups of the population.
BSP MP Dragomir Stoynev told the House that Radev’s motives for the veto completely overlapped with the concerns of the opposition.
“It is still not clear how the household users will be compensated and where the money will come from,” Stoynev said, adding that it was not known how energy suppliers would be incentivised to offer low prices to consumers.
Parliamentary energy committee chairperson Delyan Dobrev (GERB-UDF) said: “The president’s motives are serious, as are his arguments.
“He also shares our concerns about whether liberalisation will work in the way we imagine,” Dobrev said.
He said that the amendments were passed at two readings “because we are chasing a deadline related to the Recovery and Resilience Plan and if we do not meet this deadline, we will not receive the money under the second tranche,” he said.
“There are imperfections in its application, but it comes into force on July 1 2024. We have eight months to make the changes to the law so that it works smoothly. Despite all the arguments and concerns, let us pass this bill again so that we do not stop the work on the plan and to clear up any questions that are not clear after that,” Dobrev said.
Bulgaria’s constitution grants the head of state a limited power of veto, through enabling the President to return legislation to the National Assembly for further discussion.
The National Assembly may overturn the President’s veto through a simple majority vote or accept the veto and review the vetoed clauses.
Since taking office in January 2017, Radev made liberal use of the power and the veto of the Energy Act amendments was his 33nd vetoed bill.
The National Assembly overturned the veto on all but five occasions – four times that the veto was accepted by MPs, and one instance where the government coalition at the time failed to muster the support needed to overturn it.
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