Gazprom is ready to comply with EU rules to end a five-year antitrust case and avoid fines, Europe’s competition commissioner said on Monday (March 13), signalling a thaw in business ties between Moscow and Brussels despite tensions over Ukraine.
In a news conference on Monday, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that she welcomed the energy company’s proposals and believed that they will allow for the free flow of gas in Central and Eastern Europe at competitive prices.
“The commitments that we now have from Gazprom confirm this. We think that they provide a forward-looking solution to fix the issues we’ve found and to help gas markets better integrate in the region,” she said.
The EU executive has invited feedback on its decision from the eight Central and Eastern European states at the heart of the allegations that it overcharged customers and blocked rivals in the region, as well as from the public in those countries and all other stakeholders.
In concessions aimed at staving off a potential fine of up to 10 percent of its global turnover, Gazprom has agreed to make changes to price revision clauses in long-term contracts and conditions linked to pipeline infrastructure.
As part of the deal, EU regulators said Gazprom will also drop clauses in its supply contracts with wholesalers and some industrial customers barring them from exporting its gas to other countries.
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which aims to bring Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea, is not a “project of common interest” to the EU, Vestager also said, repeating the Commission’s view that the project does not serve the EU’s efforts to reform the energy market in the bloc and reduce dependence on Russian gas.
However, the executive has so far resisted attempts by some national governments which opposed the scheme to take a firm position on the legality of the pipeline under European law.