Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Gazprom: Margrethe Vestager conducts a competition proceedings – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Little time? At the end of the text’s a summary.

Margrethe Vestager looks as if it could do that every week now. Seven days ago, the EU Competition Commissioner, Google has made this week’s Gazprom to it. “It becomes a habit that we in this room have the Competition Commissioner,” jokes commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas before the Dane over let the word. Make submits Vestager what a foreign policy bomb is like: the Commission Gazprom a “Statement of Objections” submitted a list of objections against the allegedly unfair pricing of Russian gas giant in five Eastern European countries.

The state enterprise leveraging its dominant position as an energy supplier to demand from some customers up to 40 percent increased prices. Gazprom forbid some customers contractually, to re-export its gas and Socialize prices to harmful offsetting transactions such as pipeline investments that further increase the dependence of some states. “By separating the national gas markets Gazprom could ask prices that we currently consider to be inappropriate,” she says. Can their officials to prove the allegations, Gazprom threatens a fine of up to ten billion euros

Experts give the Commissioner absolutely right. “The pricing policy of the Russians always depends on its market power in their respective countries,” says Heiko Lohmann, author of the trade publication “energate gas market”. In Western Europe, where gas from Norway and the Netherlands arrives, Gazprom demanded significantly lower prices than in Bulgaria.

Political tensions are likely to grow

However, is the process at a very difficult time in relations between Europe and Russia: The giant empire heats the Ukraine conflict in the country, the EU sanctions have thrown it at the same time in a deep economic crisis.

Gazprom plays a central role in the foreign policy strategy of President Vladimir Putin. As a private coffers of the state, as well as its economic Weapon: Because of the debts of the Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz with Gazprom Group more than once, Ukraine threatened to pull the plug. The negotiations with the Greek government on the pipeline “Turkish Music” observed suspicious in Brussels

However, the Commission also clear interests. The “European Union Energy” is one of their main objectives. It is intended to solve the continent over the next few years of the dependence of Russian gas supplies. Even businesses with autocracies such as Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are not taboo.

Despite this mixed up Vestager defends against the impression that the process was politically motivated. “We have no problem with the company, but with his behavior,” she says. There were similar proceedings against energy companies such as EDF, which is dominated by core EU State France. In Vestagers words, the mega corporation that Europe provides almost one-third of its gas works, suddenly very small: Gazprom is “a state-owned company that operates on EU territory” was. And must also abide by European rules.

The EU since September 2012 investigated the business practices of Gazprom. The study of the EU Competition Commission could have been settled. Vestagers predecessor Joaquín Almunia said to have been on the verge According to EU circles to negotiate with Gazprom a compromise. While negotiations were broken off, however, after Russia had annexed the Crimea. Now it is Vestager, take the direct duel.

“Iron Lady” layer which has no political struggle

No, as are most in Brussels agree on is better suited for this task than the resolute Danish. “One of the few bright spots in this commission,” said one EU parliamentarian, who usually quick to criticize the panel’s President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Your Nordic friendliness and her cute knitting passion, it yields itself in committee meetings, but should not obscure the fact that Vestager no political fight shy: A social reform, they prevailed as Danish Minister of Economic Affairs, earned her reputation in their home country ” Iron Lady “field.

The assertiveness is Vestager also need the returns from Moscow arrived promptly. Gazprom called the allegations unfounded, Russian Foreign Minister accused Brussels even a violation of a Partnership Agreement. Even in our own Commission to have been controversial Vestagers initiative.

She sat down by – and then proved even humor: When asked why Gazprom twelve weeks time to get his reaction – Two weeks, more than Google – crept a smile in Vestagers face. “The statement is longer. There is more to read.” You can be sure that you will do very well in Moscow

To summarize:. The EU launches a process against Gazprom. The competition watchdogs accuse the Russian energy giant of abusing its market power in five Eastern European countries. The Group and the Russian government defend itself against the allegations.


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