Photo of Péter Balás

Péter Balás

Ambassador Péter Balás, a non-lawyer, is a senior policy advisor and member of Covington’s Public Policy team. He draws on over 40 years of experience in the field of European and international politics and trade to advise clients on policy related issues.

Most recently, Ambassador Balás held the positions of Deputy Director General, DG Trade to the European Commission (2005-2014) and Head of the Support Group for the Ukraine in the European Commission (2014-2015). He was previously Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Hungary to the World Trade Organisation.

Ambassador Balás has also held several positions working for the Hungarian Government, including as Deputy State Secretary for International Economic Relations at the Ministries of Economic Affairs (1996-2000) and Foreign Affairs (2000-2002); Assistant State Secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Trade (1994-1996), and Director-General in the Ministry of International Economic Relations in Budapest (1991-1994).

As part of Covington's global public policy team, Ambassador Balás is part of a market leading group of experienced lawyers and other former senior policymakers. The team advises clients on a range of European public policy issues, including the EU policy-making processes and the functioning of the European institutions.

In late June, the European Council (leaders from the 27 EU Member States) granted Ukraine and Moldova the status of “candidate countries” for EU membership, and promised Georgia the same once it meets certain conditions. What are the practical consequences of this seminal decision?

In short, the process of preparing for membership in the European Union is fundamentally political and tailored to each specific country and historical moment. For instance, no country in the EU’s history had to simultaneously wage war to defend its homeland and independence while on the accession path. Although there are various precedents, accession criteria, pre-existing funding streams, and established processes, the scale, type, and duration of benefits available to Ukraine from the EU accession path will be unique. As important as the psychological boost to Ukraine from the EU’s political signal, the tangible benefits from Ukraine’s candidacy status will be invaluable.

Historical Precedents

Notwithstanding four earlier rounds of enlargement in the 1970s-1990s (Denmark, Ireland, UK, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Finland, and Sweden), significant EU pre-accession funding started with the enlargement process across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) after the end of the Cold War. The first major program, PHARE (Poland and Hungary Assistance for Restructuring their Economies), launched in 1989 to cover these two countries and soon expanded to eight other candidate countries to prepare them for EU membership. It distributed about €16 billion between 1990 and 2006.  There were also two targeted funding programs for the environment and transport (ISPA) as well as agriculture (SAPARD), which distributed an additional €5 billion.Continue Reading Ukraine’s EU Accession Process

The European Commission is currently discussing a draft of a proposal for a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (“CBAM”) Regulation that it is expected to present on July 14, 2021.  A CBAM was already announced in the European Commission’s Communication for a Green Deal  and is intended to protect the EU’s domestic industry that is at risk of carbon leakage—to create a level playing field—and to serve as a policy tool to encourage third countries to reduce their greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions.

The CBAM draft proposal is subject to intense negotiations among the different Directorates-General of the European Commission, and it is likely that it will be amended several times before the Commission finally presents it on July 14.  Nevertheless, the draft already suggests that the CBAM proposal will require importers of covered goods into the EU to purchase and surrender a number of CBAM certificates that reflect the goods’ embedded emissions.  In line with the European Parliament’s resolution, the CBAM would be linked to the EU Emissions Trading System (“EU ETS”) as the price of the CBAM certificates would reflect the average price of the ETS allowances.
Continue Reading Twelve Things to Know About the Upcoming EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism

Last week, the European Commission took a major step to implement the climate aspects of its European Green Deal.  It presented a proposal for a European Climate Law and two consultations on its announced Climate Pact and Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (“CBAM”).

The European Commission intends to present a proposal for a CBAM by