Gazprom offer to avoid fines allays worries: EU
Gazprom is ready to comply with EU rules to end a five-year antitrust case and avoid fines, the bloc’s competition commissioner said yesterday, signaling a thaw in business ties between Moscow and Brussels despite tensions over Ukraine.
Eight member states in the east, all formerly dominated by Moscow, now have until May 4 to object to the EU executive’s view and could try to seek changes in Gazprom’s offer.
The Russian state gas exporter, which supplies a third of the EU’s gas, has been on the radar of EU regulators since 2012, culminating in charges in April 2015 that it overcharged customers in Central and Eastern Europe and blocked rivals.
Since then, Gazprom has offered concessions aimed at staving off a potential fine of up to 10 percent of its global turnover.
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who has brought actions and levied fines against major U.S. multinationals such as Google, said Gazprom’s offer allayed worries and provided “a forward looking solution.”
“Combined we think that these measures are important improvements to ensure the free flow of gas at competitive prices,” Vestager said.
Gazprom has agreed to fixed transparent fees and to allow clients the right to price revisions clauses in long-term contracts, EU regulators said.
As part of the deal, Gazprom will also adapt contracts to remove barriers on the free flow of gas across borders and drop clauses in its supply contracts with wholesalers and some industrial customers barring them from exporting its gas to other countries.
Within a bloc divided over its stance on Russia, some EU nations see the move towards a settlement as running counter to calls for more sanctions on Russia over its bombing in Syria.