In just one week after the Commission filed antitrust charges against U.S. tech giant, Google, European Union’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, is at it again, but this time, her attention has shifted to Russian energy titan, Gazprom. According to news sources, the Commission is expected to charge Gazprom for abusing its dominant position in some eastern and southern European markets, the New York Times said.
The EU regulator has long suspected the gas supplier of engaging in unfair behavior. In 2012, the Commission launched a formal investigation into the company’s practices, but Russian President Vladimir Putin fired back with a ruling preventing the gas supplier from disclosing information to foreign authorities without approval from the government.
According the Times article, Vestager is focusing the investigation around three areas: Gazprom blocking some countries from re-exporting gas it purchased from the company; Gazprom linking parts of its contract to customers; and matching the price of gas to international oil prices. Lithuania, for example, voiced it concerns over higher than usual gas prices in light of the country’s decision to push Gazprom to give up its stake in the country’s pipeline network. Meanwhile, countries that partnered with Gazprom on pipeline projects were given favorable gas prices.
Since Vestager took up office in last November, she has pledged to unify the digital market and drop the axe on unfair competitive practices. In a speech last week, the antitrust chief said that the Commission plans on cracking down on competition in Europe’s energy markets.
This is Vestager’s second bold move in antitrust enforcement. Last Wednesday, she charged Google for abusing its power in the delivery of its online searches, which favors the company’s services over other rival websites. After more than five years of intense scrutiny by the European watchdog, Vestager reached a decision in agreement with the Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker, which may cost Google billions.