Brussels serves formal antitrust charges against Gazprom

 
Emma Haslett
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Gazprom controls gas supplies to many eastern European countries (Source: Getty)

After days of ramping up the pressure, the European Commission (EC) has finally served formal antitrust charges against Russian oil giant Gazprom.

The decision is the culmination of a four-year investigation into Gazprom's power over gas supplies to eastern European countries. The EC accused Gazprom of overcharging its customers illegally and pushing out its rivals.

But today new EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager says that "all companies that operate in the European market - no matter if they are European or not - have to play by our EU rules".

The news comes against the backdrop of escalating tensions between the EU and the Russian government, which controls a majority stake in the company.

Yesterday Sarah Lane, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, suggested the investigation is more political than analysts realise.

“The whole issue around sanctions and the EU’s dependence on Russia has brought this to fore. The political situation has probably sped up this whole issue,” she said.
In a statement of objections over the EC allegations, Gazprom said it considered them to be "unfounded".
Gazprom strictly adheres to all the norms of international law and national legislation in the countries where the Gazprom Group conducts business. The business practices of the Gazprom Group in the EU market, including the principles of gas pricing, are in full conformity with the standards observed by other producers and exporters of natural gas.

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