24/05/2018 Thursday

Poland is disappointed with the result of EU's steps over Gazprom – Deputy Foreign Minister

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymański told PAP that the government is disappointed with the European Commission's years-long anti-monopoly procedure against Russian gas conglomerate Gazprom, which ended without the imposition of fines or damages.

The EC announced earlier on Thursday that it is finally approving an agreement with Gazprom over its abuse of a dominant position in Central and Eastern Europe. The Russian concern will thus avoid any penalties for monopolistic practices.

At the same time, Brussels ordered Gapzrom to allow for a free flow of gas at competitive prices on CEE markets. Should the company break any of these obligations, it could be fined up to 10 percent of its global turnover, without the EC having to prove a breach of the EU's competition rules.

Commenting on these decisions, Szymański said Poland is "disappointed" the years-long procedure ended without the imposition of any fines or punitive damages for the benefit of the affected firms, and with "only marginal concessions from the Russian monopolist."

The deputy foreign minister added that the result is particularly worrying in the context of "the aggressive Russian policy in relation to the EU and its member states," of which Gazprom has long been a tool.

In Szymański's view, given Gazprom's market infringements identified in the procedure, "a much more severe decision, including a fine, would have been more just and fully justified."

He added, however, that "making Gazprom subject to the EU's market mechanisms is a positive element" and "we expect a similar approach to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline (a planned connection to supply Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea - PAP)."

Gazprom itself said it was pleased with the EC's decision, adding it has always complied with the EU's competition law and will continue to do so in the future.