Press Review - March 13, 2018

03.13.2018 By Oana Gavrila

EC Opens In-Depth Investigation Into CE Hunedoara State Aid

The European Commission on Monday opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether various public support measures from Romania in favor of energy producer Complexul Energetic Hunedoara are in line with EU rules on State aid to companies in difficulty.

On  April 21, 2015 the Commission approved temporary rescue aid of EUR37.7 million (RON167 million) to the Romanian energy producer CE Hunedoara, which has been in financial difficulty since 2013.

Romania committed to submit a restructuring plan aimed at ensuring the future viability of CE Hunedoara if the company were unable to pay back the rescue aid in six months' time. In addition, in a separate decision dated April 20, 2015 the Commission concluded that CE Hunedoara had to repay around EUR6 million of incompatible state aid, the Commission said in a press release.

EU state aid rules only allow a state intervention for a company in financial difficulty under specific conditions, requiring in particular that the company is subject to a sound restructuring plan to ensure its return to long-term viability, that the company contributes to the cost of its restructuring and that any competition distortions are limited.

At this stage, the Commission has doubts whether the proposed restructuring plan could restore the long-term viability of the company without continued state aid.


Lending Is Not a Consumer Right or Lender Obligation, Says Central Bank Official

Access to lending services is not and cannot be a consumer right or a lender's obligation but is essentially a market-regulated commercial service, said central bank first deputy governor Florin Georgescu.

Both parties must agree to conclude a contract and must be fully aware of its risks, said Georgescu, speaking at a conference on bank regulations to protect consumers.

He said it is the consumer protection authority's and not bankers' job to protect consumers.

“The central bank has no legal authority to intervene in the consumer-creditor relation,” he said.


Online Music Service Spotify Enters Romanian Market

Spotify, one of the world’s biggest audio streaming services, officially entered the Romanian market on Monday, March 12, ten years after its official launch.

Users in Romania can listen to songs free of charge, but they can also opt for a five-euro monthly subscription worth nearly RON23, to get rid of ads.

Spotify has more than 159 million users globally, who can choose from over 35 million Romanian and foreign songs, the company said in a statement.

Spotify is present on 62 markets with over two billion playlists available and two million playlists newly created on a daily basis. Over 30,000 songs get added to the service on a daily basis.

Spotify is a music, podcast, and video streaming service that was officially launched on October 7, 2008. It is developed by Spotify AB in Stockholm, Sweden. It provides DRM–protected content from record labels and media companies.


Iohannis Signs Bill Declaring Good Friday Public Holiday

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis on Monday signed into law a bill that establishes Good Friday as a public holiday.

The bill had been initiated by UDMR lawmaker Szabo Odon, who argued that Good Friday is a public holiday in 16 European Union member states and that Romania has 14 public holidays, compared with other European Union countries, such as Belgium or Cyprus, which have 16 to 17 public holidays.

Odon also said Good Friday is one of the most important religious events throughout the year.


Orange Code Warning for Floods in Western Romania

Hydrologists issued an orange code warning for potential floods in western and southwestern Romania until Tuesday evening.

At the same time, rivers in 28 counties are under yellow code advisory for floods until Wednesday night.

Moderate rain is expected in the western half of the country and showers in the east, central and southern regions until Wednesday morning.

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