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Legal Update – March 2022
Some of the pieces of legislation that were published in the Official Journal of Romania during March 2022 include general interest information, as follows:
I. CONNECTION TO THE NATURAL GAS DISTRIBUTION GRID
Order No 7 approving the Regulation regarding the connection to the natural gas distribution grid was published in the Official Journal of Romania No 196 on 28th of February 2022.
What is the subject matter of this Regulation?
▪ This Regulation is intended to create a unitary and transparent framework for the connection to the existing or newly designed natural gas distribution grid.
Who is this Regulation applicable to?
▪ A future domestic or non-domestic customer who requires the connection to a distribution grid in order to supply a consumption place;
▪ The system users who require the modification of a connection and/or of an existing station/post;
▪ The concessionaires of the public utility service of natural gas distribution, the administrative and territorial unit and/or the associations thereof which require the connection to an existing distribution grid to create the natural gas distribution system or the creation of an intelligent natural gas distribution grid;
▪ The administrative and territorial unit and/or the associations thereof which require the connection to a new distribution grid and the extension of an intelligent natural gas distribution grid.
The applicants may elect from among the economic operators authorized by the Romanian Energy Regulatory Authority to execute connection installations.
What is the connection procedure?
▪ The connection application encompassing the documentary evidence and the proof of payment in full of the tariff for examination of the connection application shall be lodged with the operator of the distribution system.
▪ No later than five (5) business days from receipt of the connection application, the operator of the distribution system assesses and examines the application for connection to the distribution system.
▪ If the application is accurate and complete, the operator of the distribution system shall issue the basic technical approval or the technical approval for connection no later than thirty (30) days from receipt of the application.
II. CERTIFICATES OF CLASSIFICTION FOR TOURISM ACCOMODATION STRUCTURES
Order No 510, published in the Official Journal of Romania No 200/2022 amends and supplements the norms for issuance of classification certificates for tourism accommodation structures, with accommodation and public food functions, the tourism licenses and patents, approved by Order No 65/2013 of the Chairman of the National Authority for Tourism.
What does Order 510/2022 provide for?
▪ In order to obtain the classification certificate, the natural person economic operators who own tourism accommodation structures with accommodation functions such as apartment and/or rooms to let, must lodge the following documents:
a. A form of application to obtain the classification certificate to be filled in by the natural person economic operators, according to Annex 31 to the Norms on the issuance of certificates of classification for tourism accommodation structures with accommodation and public food functions, of tourism licenses and patents of June 10th, 2013;
b. A form of description sheet listing each and every accommodation premises by categories and types, according to Annex 4 to the Norms on the issuance of certificates of classification for tourism accommodation structures with accommodation and public food functions, of tourism licenses and patents of June 10th, 2013;
c. A copy of the identity document of the natural person who is the owner of the tourism accommodation structure;
d. The consent of the tenants/owners’ association or the consent of the owners with whom the natural person economic operator has common walls horizontally or vertically, listing the exact activities that shall be carried out in that tourism accommodation structure;
e. A document attesting to the ownership title in the tourism accommodation structure and the address thereof.
▪ Additionally, the natural person economic operators may apply for a classification for maximum 7 rooms classified under the type of tourism accommodation structure apartments and/or rooms to let in family dwellings, their property, irrespective of the number of dwellings located therein.
III. UKRAINIANS ARE NO LONGER OBLIGED TO OBTAIN A WORK VISA
On February 28th, 2022, the National Occupational Agency published an information according to which the Ukrainian citizens who wish to find a job in Romania are no longer required to obtain a work permit for a maximum nine (9) months in one calendar year.
To benefit of all services and measures laid down in Law 76/2002 regarding the system of unemployment insurance system and stimulation of employment, as amended and supplemented from time to time, over the nine (9) months the Ukrainian citizens may apply for the refugee status.
IV. NEW ACTIONS INTENDED TO REDUCE THE RISK OF COLLAPSE OF BUILDINGS IN CASE OF EARTHQUAKE
Law No 37/2022 was published in the Official Journal of Romania No 216/2022. It amends and supplements Government Ordinance No 20/1994 on the measures intended to reduce the risk of collapse of buildings in case of earthquake.
No later than January 1st, 2023, the managers of the public institutions must order the certified technical experts to initiate the technical expert reports intended to classify buildings depending on their earthquake risks and to substantiate the intervention needs.
What types of constructions are concerned with the technical expert reports?
The constructions which are destined to be used as education units or institutions where training/educational activities are carried out, in the patrimony of those public institutions and were built before 1978.
V. IT IS NO LONGER NECESSARY TO FILL IN THE DIGITAL FORM UPON ENTRY TO ROMANIA
Government Emergency Ordinance No 22/2022 repealed Government Emergency Ordinance No 129/2021 regarding the implementation of the digital form for entry in Romania.
Therefore, it is no longer necessary to fill in the digital form upon entry in Romania no more than 72 hours before or no more than 24 hours after entering the country.
VI. THE STATE AID SCHEME FOR SMEs INTENDED TO HELP THEM TO COPE WITH THE ECONOMIC CRISIS GENERATED BY THE PANDEMIC WAS CHANGED
Order No 277 of the Ministry of European Investments and Projects was published on March 11th, 2022. It amends the state aid scheme for SMEs, intended to help them cope with the economic crisis generated by the COVID 19 pandemic, as the same had been approved by Order No 1.290/2021 of the Interim Minister of European Investments and Projects.
▪ The minimum amount of the state aid is the equivalent of Euro 50,000 and the maximum amount of the state aid is the equivalent of Euro 1,000,000, but no more than 5 times and turnover for 2019;
▪ The funds shall be offered based on competitive criteria, for projects that obtain minimum 70 points.
▪ For projects with the same score, the criteria to be considered in differentiating them shall be:
– The reduction of the turnover from December 31st, 2020 compared to December 31st, 2019;
– The date and hour when the project was lodged;
▪ The types of eligible expenses are:
– Expenses for renovation of buildings (revamping), installation of various energy efficiency equipment, equipment for renewable sources, supply of energy services;
– Expenses for systematization and land development;
– Expenses for connection to utilities necessary for the project;4
– Expenses for technical design and assistance;
– Expenses for acquisition of technological and functional installations, plant, equipment, with and without assembly, including IT&C, software technologies;
– Intangible assets;
– Electric or hybrid vehicles (cars, buses, microbuses, elevators, loading trucks, trucks and vehicles for special purposes);
– Expenses for consulting in preparation and implementation of the project, but no more than 10% of the eligible value of the project;
– Expenses for mandatory advertising and dissemination related to the project.
VII. THE CONTRIBUTION TO THE PRIVATELY ADMINISTERED PENSIONS FUND WAS INCREASED
Government Emergency Ordinance No 23 was published in the Official Journal of Romania on March 16th, 2022, and it supplements article 43 of Law No 411/2004 on the pension funds administered privately, that is, it provides the increase by one percentage point, effective as of January 1st, 2024, of the contribution to the private pensions fund (Pillar II).
Thus, starting with January 1st, 2024, the contribution to the pensions fund is 4.75%.
VIII. THERE WAS APPROVED THE MECHANISM FOR CREATION OF A REGISTRAR OF PLANT, EQUIPMENT AND INSTALLATIONS
Decision No 342 was published in the Official Journal of Romania on March 17th, 2022, and it approves the creation of a Registrar of plant, equipment and installation which the economic operators may use in order to participate in the public procurement procedures/sectoral procurement procedures in the area of transport infrastructure projects.
What is the Registrar of plant, equipment and installations intended for?
▪ The Registrar is intended to allow the contracting authorities/entities to verify the availability of plant, equipment and installations declared by the economic operators which are bidders in the public/sectoral procurement procedures in the area of transport infrastructure projects.
▪ The Registrar is created and operated via the Electronic System of Public Procurement (SEAP), by the Romanian Authority for Digitalization.
IX. STATE AIDS IN PRIORITY INDUSTRIES
Government Emergency Ordinance No 24 was published in the Official Journal of Romania on March 18th, 2022, and it approves the programs for state-aid component guarantees intended to facilitate the access to funds for companies facing difficulties generated by the COVID 19 pandemic, in order to execute investment projects.
What are the programs eligible for funding?
▪ The IMM PROD program intended to secure the liquidities and funds necessary for the investments made by small and medium sized enterprises, hereinafter called SMEs, including start-ups in the urban area;
▪ The RURAL INVEST program intended to secure the liquidities and funds necessary for the investments made by eligible beneficiaries locating their produce in rural and small urban areas;
▪ The GARANT CONSTRUCT program, dedicated to projects intended to improve the energy efficiency, to green energy investments and compliance with the environmental objectives set by the SMEs operating in the construction industry and administrative-territorial units;
▪ The INNOVATION program, intended to support the innovation capacity, to support the export activities of SMEs in the trade and service industries, whose turnover is less than 1 million Euros, operating in the export, non-polluting areas.
What facilities are offered to the eligible beneficiaries?
▪ A state aid under the form of guarantees, which cover approximately 90% of the credits offered by credit institutions for investments and/or for the current activity;
▪ A state aid under the form of a grant which covers the full amount of the risk fee and the management fee all along the validity of the guarantee offered, the interest related to the credits/credit lines for the periods referred to in the implementation procedures for each program, as well as a non-refundable component of maximum 10% of the funds guaranteed, as appropriate, subject to the terms and conditions in the implementation procedures.
X. THE PRICE OF ELECTRICITY AND NATURAL GAS WAS CAPPED
Government Emergency Ordinance No 27/2022 was published in the Official Journal of Romania No 274/2022. It refers to the measures applicable to the end-customers of the electricity and natural gas market for the period April 1st, 2022 – March 31st, 2023.
What does GEO 27/2022 provide for?
GEO 27/2022 governs the capping of the prices for electricity and natural gas for domestic and non-domestic consumers.
What are the capped prices for domestic consumers?
▪ As regards electricity, the final price invoiced to domestic consumers is:
– 0.68 Lei/kWh, inclusive of VAT, if the monthly average consumption at the consumption place in 2021 was less or equal to 100 KWh;
– 0.80 Lei/kWh, inclusive of VAT, if the monthly average consumption at the consumption place in 2021 varied between 100 KWh and 300 KWh included;
▪ As regards natural gas, the final price invoiced to domestic consumers is:
– 0.31 Lei/kWh, inclusive of VAT, starting with April 1st, 2022.
What are the capped prices for non-domestic consumers?
▪ As regards electricity, the final price invoiced to non-domestic consumers is 1 Leu/kWH, inclusive of VAT.
▪ As regards natural gas, the final price invoiced to non-domestic consumers is 0.37 Lei/kWh, inclusive of VAT, if the yearly natural gas consumption in 2021 at the consumption place is maximum 50,00 MWh, as well as in case of heating producers dedicated to the consumption of other consumers.
For how long are the cap prices valid?
The new measures shall be applicable for a one year period, that is, from April 1st, 2022 to March 31st, 2023.
XI. CHANGES IN THE PUBLIC PROCUREMENT AREA
Decision No 375/2022 was published in the Official Journal of Romania No 277/2022. It amends the Norms for implementation of the provisions regarding the awarding of the public procurement contracts.
▪ The term allowed for the establishment of the performance guarantee may be extended upon argued request of the contractor, but not later than 15 days from the signing of the public procurement contract/subsequent contract.
▪ The decision introduces the possibility to revert, in exceptional situations, to the negotiation procedure without publication, as long as the national interest transport infrastructure contracts are terminated solely for the default of contractors, provided that the beneficiary acted diligently throughout the contract performance.
▪ For financial offers of less than 80% of the estimated amount of the contract, it is necessary to conduct additional analysis and clarifications to justify the price.
▪ The decision introduces the obligation, for all works contracts unfolding for more than 6 months, to have the awarding documentations provide for clear and concrete price updating clauses, by reference to the current market conditions.
▪ The decision introduces the possibility for the contracting authority to issue inspection/findings reports during the contract performance, every 90 days, not only upon completion of the works or services contract, as specified at present.
▪ New provisions are introduced, regarding the condition for the termination of the public procurement contracts by the beneficiary and by the contractor.
▪ The decision also provides for the possibility of contracting authorities to include in the awarding documentation the manner in which claims/disputes shall be settled, i.e., either by arbitration or before the courts of law of competent jurisdiction, not only by arbitration as it is at present.