Relations between the EU and Russia are still tense. The Commission has formally accused Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, of “abuse and monololy” for its business practices in central and Eastern Europe, where it has implemented an “unfair pricing” and has “hampered competition” by creating “artificial reefs”. The company now has 12 weeks time to respond to European Antitrust findings, in what is the most important ever procedure that has bee opened against a state-controlled company. However, it wasn’t long before the Russian group replicated, which defined the accusations as being “groundless”and called for a solution of the case “at governmental level”. In a statement, the Russian gas giant ensured it striclty adhered to regulations in force and acted in total compliance with the standards observed “by the industry.
In particular, the European Commission has found at the outset that Gazprom obstructs competition in eight Member States, namely Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia,Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia, whereit allegedly imposes territorial restrictions in supply agreements with wholesalers and some industrial customers, by banning the export of gas and by imposing clauses which restrict the use of gas in a specific territories.
In addition to preventing the free gas exchange, territorial restrictions could result in higher prices and allow Gazprom to conduct “an unfair pricing policy” in five Member States. TheEuropean investigation comes at a delicate moment in relations with Moscow. In fact the Eu sanctions applied to companies and sectors of the Russian economy have been in place since April last year and will expire next July. In terms of gas, after the EU stop at South Stream project, Russia is studying an alternative route, the Turkish Stream and is negotiating with Greek Prime Minister Tsipras ‘” to extend the route.”