Sat, Dec
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In The Corner Office, we ask Managing Partners at law firms across Central and Eastern Europe about their backgrounds, strategies, and responsibilities. Keeping in mind last year’s complexities and the uncertainties ahead, this time we asked: Has your team shrunk or increased in the last 12 months and what are your expectations for 2023?

Following a tumultuous year marked by the ongoing conflict in the region and rising financing expenses, we reached out to experts across CEE to gain a deeper understanding of the real estate landscape, including key factors driving the industry and the primary obstacles it faces.

Adaptability in times of change is one of the most needed qualities in individuals, but societies at large also need to have it, to better take advantage of shifting times. Are the CEE region and its legal profession able to adapt to the changes it is facing?

Every magazine issue, I inevitably glance over the Letters to the Editors text: an invitation for our readers and contributors to critically engage with us and the articles we publish. Sadly, we get much fewer such letters than I’d like. Still, today I realized that – while they might not start with the customary Dear Editor – we do get a large number of emails that would fit the bill.

In The Debrief, our Practice Leaders across CEE share updates on recent and upcoming legislation, consider the impact of recent court decisions, showcase landmark projects, and stay up to date with the latest developments impacting their respective practice areas. 

The Russian military invasion of Ukraine and the consequent energy crisis in Europe have brought the issue of energy independence to the forefront of the public agenda in Poland – raising it to an issue not only of economic stability but of national security.

Serbia has been making great strides in expanding its use of renewable energy in recent years, focusing on reducing its dependence on non-renewable sources and ensuring sustainable growth for its energy sector. Although the country has a wealth of natural resources, by now, Serbia’s reached a renewable energy capacity of 3,490 megawatts, of which 2,342 megawatts are from hydropower plants and the rest are from other renewable resources. Serbia’s abundant wind and solar energy potential will enable substantial progress in transitioning to green energy in the years to come. The impact of renewables on the Serbian industry will be significant, leading to reduced energy costs for businesses and greater energy independence. The growth of the renewables sector will also create new employment opportunities, particularly in construction, maintenance, and engineering. The industry will become a significant catalyst for Serbia’s economic development.

The last few years have seen a long list of investors turning their eyes to the Greek renewable energy source market and an abundance of new projects being developed throughout the country – to the extent that one would assume an excessive capacity of the Greek distribution network. Sadly, that is not the case. The occupation of grid space has been very loosely regulated for quite a long time, and final grid connection offers (GCOs) have been granted to licensed producers largely on a first come first served basis, and without any specific priority requirements.

In the pursuit of promoting renewable energy sources and achieving goals like decarbonization, as well as more ambitious ones such as energy independence, the European Union constantly both encourages and imposes achieving these objectives on the member states. As the whole world was recently shaken by pandemics and war, we are now facing an energy crisis worsened by these tragedies. In this context, in the second half of last year, Romanian legislators adopted several pieces of legislation aimed at mending various blockages encountered in practice by RES developers.

According to the national energy mix, only 5.6% of energy was produced by renewable sources in 2021 in the Czech Republic. Most energy was produced by nuclear sources (40.4%) and fossil fuels (54%).

The renewable energy sector in Ukraine has been one of the most promising sectors of the economy over the last decade. Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine has impacted the lives of every citizen and the country. Renewable energy projects have also been subject to adverse effects due to military actions.

The EU intends to implement a horizontal regulation on the qualification, recycling, and waste management of batteries (Battery Regulation) aiming to replace the existing Batteries Directive. Once the EU approves the Commission’s proposal, the new regulation will make the batteries more sustainable throughout their entire lifecycle, according to EU officials. Given Hungary’s significant role in battery production, we summarize the additional statutory obligations and consequences that could be imposed on battery producers.

Bulgaria has great potential and is currently attracting major investors interested in large-scale renewable energy projects. Currently, over 1,500 megawatts of solar and over 800 megawatts of wind projects are operating. Still, the country’s power generation is highly dependent on its baseload power capacity coming from thermal power plants (over 3,600 megawatts). However, to meet the net zero economy targets, renewables could be the solution to replace these capacity volumes. Thus, at least 2,600 megawatts in RES capacity are expected to be installed by 2025, to allow Bulgaria to meet its target of 30.33% of energy produced from renewable sources.

The ongoing energy crisis in Europe has underscored the urgent need to limit the reliance on imported energy sources. In a country lacking traditional energy sources like Moldova, the way to achieve that is to push for a rapid and sharp increase in renewable energy generation.

Lithuania has never been among the leading countries in the field of energy from renewables. Dependence on imported electricity is still high, with just around 30% of electricity demand being produced locally. The installation of various power plants was slow and did not have a strong economic basis, with the main opportunities arising in wind and solar energy.

Slovakia experienced a boom in renewables in 2010/11, then it became silent. New rules, a government decision, the EU recovery fund, and the increasing energy costs have led to a renaissance of renewable energy in Slovakia.

In May 2022, the European Commission announced the REPowerEU Action Plan, proposing a package of measures to accelerate the energy transition, made even more urgent by the high dependence on Russian gas. Given the urgency of deploying renewable energy installations, the EC highlighted the generation of electricity from solar energy (i.e., solar power plants, photovoltaics) as a priority and key issue. Such technology has a minimal environmental impact (especially when installed on existing built surfaces), high public acceptance, the fastest technical feasibility, and, last but not least, a low cost (the price of the technology has fallen by around 82% over the last decade).