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Press releases and law firm thought leadership

This page is dedicated to keeping readers informed of the latest news and thought leadership articles from law firms across the globe.

If your firm wishes to publish press releases or articles, please contact Shehab Khurshid on +44 (0) 207 396 5689 or


Renewable Energy: Amendment of the Austrian Green Electricity Act Doubles Funding

After four months of negotiations, the Austrian National Council has finally reached an agreement on the amendment of the Green Electricity Act ("Ökostromnovelle"). The required two-thirds majority was reached by a last minute agreement between the coalition parties and the Green Party. The aim of the new legislation is to increase the percentage of green electricity and to achieve an expansion of renewable energy in Austria. read more...

Bulgaria: Opening the gas market for foreign traders!

Most recently, the Bulgarian Energy Regulator has taken significant steps towards the full liberalisation of the natural gas market: In December 2016, the Bulgarian Energy Regulator adopted legislative amendments to the Rules for Trading of Natural Gas (Правила за търговия с природен газ, "Trading Rules") and the Rules for Access to the Gas Transmission and/or Gas Distribution Networks and the Natural Gas Storage Facilities (Правила за предоставяне на достъп до газопреносните и/или газоразпределителните мрежи и за достъп до съоръженията за съхранение на природен газ, "Access Rules"). Moreover, it adopted new Rules for Balancing of the Natural Gas Market (Правила за балансиране на пазара за природен газ, "Balancing Rules"). read more...

Albania: Finally on track for a comprehensive support scheme for renewable energy?

Current status

Albania has one of the highest percentages of electricity produced from renewable energy sources (RES) in its electricity mix – more than 95 % of electricity generated in Albania comes from hydropower generation. In spite of that (or maybe because of that), Albania has not had a comprehensive policy on the support of RES in place to date. read more...

European Commission releases "Clean Energy Package"

On 30 November 2016 the European Commission published its "Winter Package" containing proposals for new rules for a consumer-centered clean energy transition. The 500 page Winter Package had been eagerly awaited by the energy industry since it was to contain the major energy regulations for 2020 onwards. As expected, the most substantial measures and amendments proposed concern renewables and energy efficiency in the European Union. In addition, the electricity market design is proposed to be amended. read more...

Austria: Amendments to Gas Market Model Ordinance

The Gas Market Model Ordinance plays a major role in the Austrian gas market, as it regulates network access and the capacity management and balancing system in Austria's three market areas: the east, Tyrol and Vorarlberg. read more...

Poland: Act on Windfarms and Amendments to the Act on Renewable Energy Sources

On 27 June 2016 the Polish President signed a new bill introducing changes to the Act on Renewable Energy Sources ("Amending Act"). On 22 June 2016 the President signed a new Act on investments in wind power plants ("Act on Windfarms"). Both acts have been widely criticised by the renewable energy sources ("RES") industry, and on reading they suggest that the current Polish government is willing to significantly reduce support for RES. read more...

Energy Efficiency in Hungary: Regulatory requirements force all energy-using companies to increase e

The Act on Energy Efficiency in Hungary (Act no. LVII. of 2015, "AEE"), which entered into force in July 2015, and its Governmental Decree on the Enforcement of AEE, encompass the main rules to be observed in the field of energy efficiency. The AEE prescribes energy efficiency targets, political energy efficiency planning and monitoring mechanisms, including the National Action Plan, obligations of the state and public bodies, as well as the detailed rules pertaining to energy audits, which is the main topic of this article. read more...

Europe: EU-Export Compliance – Loosening of Iran trade restrictions

In order to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear programme for the construction of weapons of mass destruction ("WMD"), the UN Security Council from July 2006 onwards passed a series of resolutions by which several foreign trade restrictions were imposed on Iran. Consequently, the EU too enacted a series of restrictive measures against Iran through which the UN resolutions have been implemented and materially amended. The EU has imposed additional sanctions against Iran due to human rights infringements and internal repression in Iran. Currently, the following EU trade restrictions are in place: read more

EU/Austria: Implementation of the Water Framework Directive

As one of its main environmental objectives, EU Directive 2000/60/EC ("Water Framework Directive" – WFD), in concreto its art 4, requires all Member States to achieve – subject to several exemptions, such as the possibility to extend the timeframe – the "good status" of all surface water bodies and groundwater bodies by 22 December 2015. read more...

Austria: Aarhus Convention – infringement procedure against Austria

The international Aarhus Convention was concluded by both the European Union and its member states ('mixed agreement'). The convention lays down procedural safeguards in environmental decision-making processes. The Aarhus Convention consists of three pillars: read more...

Austria: Amendments to Chemicals Act and Biocidal Products Act

On March 5 2015 Austria's agriculture, forestry, environment and water economics minister presented a draft law to amend the Chemicals Act and the Biocidal Products Act. The proposed amendments are the last steps towards the final standardisation of the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures in accordance with EU Regulation 1272/2008 (the 'CPL Regulation'). The amendments simplify the term 'toxin' and shift the existing toxin purchase permit system to a simplified system of toxin purchase certificates. Read more...

EU: ECJ rules on exploratory drilling for natural gas and mineral oil

22 April 2015 | legal insights


In August 2011 the Ministry of Economy authorised the Austrian crude oil exploration company Rohöl-Aufsuchung AG to undertake exploratory drilling for natural gas and mineral oil within the Austrian municipality of Straßwalchen. If exploration was successful, the company had authorisation to produce a total of 1 million cubic metres of natural gas in order to prove that drilling was economically viable.

Romania: Shortcut to Power Supply and Trading‎ Activities for EU Operators

An updated regulation on the licensing regime in Romania's power sector was recently adopted by ANRE, the national regulatory authority. On 17 March 2015, Order no. 12/2015 on the Regulation for granting licenses and authorizations in the electricity sector ("Order 12"), effective as of publication, was published in the Romanian Official Gazette no. 180/2015 and repeals the former regulation, ie Order no. 48/2013. read more...

Poland: New Support Scheme for Renewable Energy Sources Already Adopted

Poland’s parliament recently adopted a new act on renewable energy sources (“RES”) that significantly changes the RES support scheme in the country.

After a lengthy legislative process, the final draft of the act on renewable energy sources (the “Act”) was adopted by the Polish parliament on 20 February 2015. The Act will now be put forward for the Polish president’s signature. The Act will come into force once it has received this signature and subsequently been published. Provisions relating to the new support scheme will enter into force on 1 January 2016, while most of the remaining provisions will do so 30 days after publication. read more... 

Croatia: A look at the Strategic Investment Projects Act One Year after Implementation

Croatia's sixth consecutive year of recession

The European Commission's autumn forecasts[1], published on 4 November 2014, projects weak economic growth for the rest of 2014 within both the EU and the Euro zone. This applies in particular for Croatia, which ranked at the bottom end of the list and for which negative growth of 0.7% in 2014 and only marginally positive growth of 0.2% in 2015 is forecast. Real GDP growth in Croatia is expected to pick up only gradually, reaching around 1.1% in 2016 on the back of an expected rebound in investment. read more...


[1]     Full forecasts for Croatia available at

EU/AT: Austrian gas law's possible non-compliance with EU Gas Directive

On 18 July 2014, the Austrian energy regulatory authority E-Control released its affirmative decision in relation to the certification of Trans Austria Gasleitung GmbH ("TAG") as a transmission system operator ("TSO") for gas. In its decision, E-Control not only requires TAG to be comprehensively restructured, but also takes a stance on the European Commission's ("EC") opinion on the potential non-compliance of the Austrian Natural Gas Act 2011 (Gaswirtschaftsgesetz "GWG") with EU unbundling rules. read more...

EU: ECJ confirms that purely national promotion of green electricity does not necessarily violate EU

The ECJ ruled at the start of July 2014 that individual EU Member States are allowed to establish renewable energy support schemes that provide for the awarding of tradable green certificates to producers of green electricity solely with respect to the green electricity produced on the territory of that State. The fact that the national promotion scheme could possibly impede electricity imports from other Member States is justifiable on account of climate change prevention and environmental protection. Thus, no violation of Article 34 TFEU. The ECJ ruling might present a setback for the supporters of a harmonized, EU-wide (common) system of renewables support schemes. read more...

Slovakia: New rules for acquisition of agricultural land

On 1 May 2014, the transitional period during which Slovakia, following the country's accession of the EU, was granted an exception for keeping in place legal limitations regarding the acquisition of agricultural land and forests expired. With the passing of this transitional period, Slovakia was obliged to bring its legislation in line with EU laws and abolish restrictions applicable to EU foreigners. The necessary law was adopted, but - largely due to the concerns of the public that foreign nationals and entities will start buying up the country - a new set of limitations was introduced that will likely complicate the acquisition of agricultural land for everyone (both Slovak and foreign entities). read more...

EU: Commission unveils guidance for groundwater and soil protection measures

The Industrial Emissions Directive ("IED", 2010/75/EU) adopted in 2010 introduced more stringent measures for the protection of soil and groundwater. read more...

EU: ECJ rules that Natura 2000 sites not carved in stone!

By its 3 April 2014 judgment in a preliminary ruling procedure, the ECJ has held that in certain cases, the Member States are required to propose to the Commission the declassification of a site on the list of SCIs. This is especially true for those cases in which the owner of land forming part of a site on that list makes a request to declassify that site and proves that the relevant site cannot contribute to the achievement of the objectives set forth in the Habitats Directive. read more...

Poland: Shale gas - recent developments

Poland is widely regarded one of the countries with the most substantial reserves of shale gas in EU.

EU: The Future of European energy and climate policy beyond 2020

The long-awaited white paper of the Commission on climate, renewable energy, and energy efficiency going forward beyond 2020 was released on 22 January 2014 (the Communication).

Ukraine: Electricity market reform

On 24 October 2013, Ukrainian Parliament adopted the Law of Ukraine "On Principles of Functioning of the Electricity Market of Ukraine" No. 663-IV (the "Law"), which became effective from 1 January 2014. read more...

EU: Commission issues a Communication and Recommendations on Shale Gas Exploration and Production

On 22 January 2014, the European Commission has issued a Communication on the exploration and production of hydrocarbons using high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the EU (the Communication) and Recommendations on minimum principles for the exploration and production of such hydrocarbons (the Recommendations). read more...

EU: New ACER/CEER Annual Report on Internal Electricity and Natural Gas Markets

ACER (Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators) and CEER (Council of European Energy Regulators) have recently published their Annual Report on the Results of Monitoring the Internal Electricity and Natural Gas Markets in 2012. This second report looks at the retail and wholesale electricity and gas markets, as well as consumer protection, in the European Union.  read more...

Bulgaria: 20% fee on solar and wind power plants challenged before the Constitutional Court

On 14 January 2014, the President of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr. Rosen Plevneliev, addressed the country's Constitutional Court, claiming that the 20% fee on solar and wind power plants does not comply with the Bulgarian Constitution and should therefore be revoked. read more...

Bulgaria: 20% fee to be imposed on solar and wind power plants

The Bulgarian Parliament has approved a controversial 20% fee on the income of solar and wind power plants, as well as a restriction -- for all renewables -- of the amount of electricity produced that can be purchased at preferential prices. read more...

EU: Public Intervention in the Electricity Market

On 5 November 2013, the EU Commission published its long-awaited Guidance to Member States on state intervention in electricity markets. read more...

Poland: New support scheme for renewable energy sources

Poland's Ministry of Economy ("ME") has stated that the support scheme for renewable energy sources ("RES") in the country will be completely changed and has presented the general rules of a new support scheme. The proposition put forward by the ME will affect not only future investments, but also the existing ones. read more...

Shale Gas in Europe - Soon in a jurisdiction near you?

Shale gas confronts Brussels with the challenge of recognising its potential and future role in the European energy policy. 

„Fracking“ – Beitrag zur Energieautarkheit oder Umweltzerstörung in großem Stil?

Nun hat die Fracking-Welle also auch Österreich im Griff. Während bisher die nationale Erdgasförderung kaum von der Öffentlichkeit wahrgenommen wurde und vielmehr die großen internationalen Pipeline-Projekte und die damit verbundene Versorgungssicherheit respektive die Unabhängigkeit von Russland bzw. von den Transit-Staaten im Vordergrund stand, rüsten sich aufgrund großer Funde im Weinviertel nunmehr Energieunternehmen auf der einen und Umweltorganisationen sowie Anrainer auf der anderen Seite zum Schlagabtausch in Österreich. Der Gesetzgeber reagierte darauf mit einer Novellierung des Umweltverträglichkeitsprüfungsgesetzes durch Implementierung eines neuen Tatbestandes.

RA Dr. Andreas Bernegger / RA Dr. Sebastian Mesecke, MLE

Industrial site contaminations likely to be-come more transparent in M&A transactions in near future

As of 7 January 2013, certain industries will become subject to more stringent envi-ronmental investigation and reporting obligations. From that date, the operators of those industrial installations that are subject to the IPPC/IED regime will have to draw up so-called "baseline reports" comprising site-related soil and groundwater information. Drawing-up that report will go hand in hand with investigating the en-vironmental state of the industrial sites concerned. Any contaminations will become transparent to national authorities and supervisory bodies. This possibility should be duly considered in M&A transactions.

The Bulgarian Parliament marks the first anniversary of the Renewable Energy Law of 2011

Bulgaria: The Bulgarian Parliament marks the first anniversary of the Renewable Energy Law of 2011 with its first amendment

The Bulgarian Parliament approved the effective Renewable Energy Law in April 2011. A year later, the regulatory framework introduced by the law underwent its first serious revision, as the amendment of the law, which had been discussed for months, entered into effect on 10 April 2012.  

Generating Electricity from Renewable Sources in Central, Eastern & Southeastern Europe

This 2012 Wolf Theiss Guide to Generating Electricity from Renewable Sources in Central, Eastern & Southeastern Europe is intended as a practical guide to the general principles and features of the basic legislation and procedures in countries included in the publication.

Legal developments in the energy practice

Country Reports

Bulgaria: Restrictions on Construction of Photo-voltaic Parks on Agricultural Lands

Most renewable energy projects in Bulgaria are being developed on agricultural land. This land can be used for non-agricultural purposes, such as Renewable En-ergy plants, after a change of its designation pursuant to the Law on Protection of Agricultural Lands (“The Law”).

Barriers in developing renewable energy projects

Author: Monica Cojocaru

For the last few months, all attention in the Romanian renewable energy sector has been centered on the outcome of the authorisation of the support scheme regulated by Law 220/2008 on the promotion system for the energy generation from renewable energy sources by the EU Commission. The uncertainty surrounding the support scheme has led to a slowdown of investments in renewable energy projects.

Competition Protection Commission investigates milk sector

At the end of 2010 the Competition Protection Commission initiated an investigation into the milk sector. Its main areas of investigation were:

Guide to: Generating Electricity from Renewable Sources in Central, Eastern & Southeastern Europe

As our teams in the various Wolf Theiss offices were putting the final touch to this Guide, many parts of Europe were hit by the heaviest snowfalls for decades, which reminds us of the more frequent extreme weather conditions to come with climate change. For some time now, climate change as well as concerns about the security of the security of our energy supplies has pushed the energy industry away from the traditional fossil fuels towards low-carbon sources. The increased use of renewable energy sources will play a central role in this decarbonisation movement.

RES-electricity: navigate the regulatory labyrinth

As a new directive promotes the use of renewable energysources in central, eastern and south-eastern Europe,Bryan Jardine and Jacques Isabelle present a guide outliningthe framework of this sector and warnings for applicants 

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