The Slovenian government has suffered a major defeat in parliament as a much-maligned merger of eight regulators into two mega-agencies was rejected by MPs, raising fresh doubts about its ability to push through tough new laws.
The bill, which was rejected in a 46-42 vote, involved the folding of six agencies into an agency for market and consumers. The new agency would regulate the energy and telecommunications markets, postal services, media and audiovisual services, and all forms of transport, while also supervising mergers and takeovers, and competition and consumer protection.
The Securities Market Agency and the Insurance Supervision Agency would be merged into a new public agency for financial markets, which would also take over some of the regulatory powers currently exercised by the central bank.
The government has argued the merger would consolidate the fragmented regulatory landscape and improve efficiency. The opposition has rejected the plan as an attempt to concentrate power and undermine the independence of regulators.
The rejection came even though the original plan was toned down in the aftermath of warnings by regulators about the perils of combining diverse regulatory tasks under just two roofs.
EU institutions also weighed in, making it clear that even a merger of this kind must not undermine regulatory autonomy and cannot be used as an excuse to terminate the management boards of existing regulators before their term ends, which the opposition saw as the ulterior motive of the plan all along.