The 3rd Vienna Forum on European Energy Law took place at the premises of the Energy Community Secretariat on March 13. The forum, which is a joint initiative between the Florence School of Regulation and the Energy Community Secretariat, brought together over 140 experts from energy companies, regulators, governments, academia and legal firms.
The motto of this year’s forum was ‘Markets and Crisis’. The programme included an analysis of the market design for renewable energy, a focus on the energy hotspot – Ukraine, a debate on the Energy Union as well as a review of enforcement in the Energy Community.
In a keynote speech, professor Helmut Schmitt von Sydow, who chaired the intergovernmental conference that negotiated the Energy Community Treaty, retraced the creation of the community. He argued that in many ways the Energy Community Treaty is more advanced than the EU’s treaties, e. g. its mutual assistance clause in case of energy crisis and flexibility in terms of accepting new members. Yet the treaty also has its weaknesses, including the absence of provisions on investment and an inadequate dispute settlement mechanism.
Experts discussed options to improve law enforcement in the Energy Community, including the creation of a regional court of justice of the Energy Community versus using arbitration tribunals. The former was preferred as arbitration was generally very costly and a regional court could deal not just with infringement cases but also have jurisdiction over direct actions against the legally binding measures taken by the Energy Community institutions and preliminary references for national courts of the Contracting Parties.