Gazprom ready to comply with EU rules
Central and Eastern Europe to decide on antitrust case
17 March, 2017
The European Commission invited last week all interested customers and other stakeholders to express by 4 May their views on commitments submitted by Gazprom to address the Commission's competition concerns as regards gas markets in Central and Eastern Europe. After receiving the comments, the Commission will then take a final view as to whether the commitments are a satisfactory way of addressing the Commission's competition concerns. If this is the case, the Commission may adopt a decision making the commitments legally binding on Gazprom (under Article 9 of the EU's antitrust Regulation 1/2003). If a company breaks such commitments, the Commission can impose a fine of up to 10% of the company's worldwide turnover, without having to prove an infringement of the EU antitrust rules.
In April 2015, the Commission sent a Statement of Objections expressing its preliminary view that Gazprom was breaking EU antitrust rules by pursuing an overall strategy to partition Central and Eastern European gas markets.
In the Commission's view, the commitments offered by Gazprom cover its competition concerns. They help to better integrate Central and Eastern European gas markets, facilitating cross-border gas flows at competitive prices, the Commission estimates. "We believe that Gazprom's commitments will enable the free flow of gas in Central and Eastern Europe at competitive prices. They address our competition concerns and provide a forward looking solution in line with EU rules,” Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager, said.
According to the Commission statement, Gazprom has committed to remove all contractual barriers to the free flow of gas in Central and Eastern European gas markets. Gazprom will remove all direct and indirect contractual restrictions that prevent its customers from re-selling gas they have bought across borders, or make it economically less attractive for customers to do so.
Another commitment refers to the facilitation of market interconnections with Bulgaria, and also the creation of opportunities for more gas flows to the Baltic States and Bulgaria. Gazprom also has committed to introduce a number of important changes to its contractual price revision clauses to ensure competitive gas prices in five Member States (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland).