EU Commission Accuses Gazprom of Breaching Antitrust Rules

EU | April 22, 2015, Wednesday // 14:10|  views

European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager gives a press conference relating to Russian gas giant Gazprom at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 22 April 2015. Photo: EPA

The European Commission has sent a statement of objections to Gazprom, accusing the Russian company of abusing its dominant market position and breaching EU antitrust rules.

Ir also says that Bulgaria is among the most heavily affected countries by what it describes as disputable practices on behalf of the Russian energy giant.

According to the preliminary findings of the Commission, Gazprom might have breached EU antitrust rules by pursuing an overall strategy to partition the gas markets of Central and Eastern Europe.

Practices such as reducing the customers' ability to resell gas cross-border might have enabled Gazprom to charge unfair prices in some member states, the Commission's press service reports.

The Russian company is also accused of abusing its dominant market position by making gas supply conditional on obtaining unrelated commitments from wholesalers concerning gas transport infrastructure.

Gazprom has twelve weeks to reply to the objections and has the right to request an oral hearing to present its arguments.

The Commission assured that it will fully respect the right of defence and will take into account the comments of Gazprom before making a decision.

EU Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager said that gas being an essential commodity, fair competition in the gas markets was of utmost importance.

Vestager was firm in her stance that all companies operating on the European market, regardless of their origin, had to abide by the EU rules.

Gazprom was accused of hindering competition in eight member states – Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia.

The Russian company is charged with imposing territorial restrictions, pursuing unfair pricing policy and making gas supplies conditional on obtaining unrelated commitments from wholesalers.

According to the preliminary findings, Bulgaria was one of the most affected countries as it might have been subject to both unfair pricing policy and forced to invest in pipeline projects promoted by Gazprom.

The statement of objections issued by the Commission will not prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.

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Tags: Bulgaria, EU, European Commission, Gazprom, Russia, gas, market, antitrust, breach, europe, infrastructure, Margrethe Vestager, competition, pricing, pipeline


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