EU waits for Gazprom settlement proposal
By Eric Maurice
The European Commission has asked Gazprom to fall in line with EU competition rules as it seeks to settle their dispute amicably.
After meeting with representatives from the Russian state-owned energy gas company on Wednesday (26 October), EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement that she was awaiting commitments from Gazprom "to ensure the free flow of gas in central and eastern Europe at competitive prices."
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She said that "all options remain on the table at this stage," adding that Gazprom could be fined up to 10 percent of its global turnover if it failed to meet the commission's requirements.
The meeting, in which Gazprom's deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev and Russian deputy energy minister Anatoly Yanovsky participated, and Vestager's demands are an attempt to avoid the fine, in a context of already tense relations between Russia and the EU.
Vestager said she expected Gazprom to undertake three commitments: remove restrictions on cross-border resales of gas between central and eastern Europe countries; guarantee market prices in the region; and ensure that it does not use its market position to impose conditions on gas infrastructure operators.
The three issues were the reasons why the commission opened an antitrust case against the company in April 2015, following an investigation launched in 2012.
"The commission is concerned that Gazprom has been pursuing an overall strategy to partition central and eastern European gas markets [that] may have enabled Gazprom to charge excessive prices in certain member states," an EU source said.
Vestager gave no deadline to Gazprom to present its measures, which the commission would make legally binding if they were "suitable to address the commission's concerns," and acceptable to Gazprom's clients, she said.
"We are now putting the final touch to our commitment proposal," Medvedev said in a statement after the meeting