In order to overcome its concerns, the European Commission imposes obligations on Russian gas company Gazprom to guarantee the free flow of natural gas in Central and Eastern European markets and to develop competitive prices on a market-based basis.
Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner for Competition, announced on Thursday that the decision removes the barriers created by the Russian gas supplier that are in the middle of gas flow in Central and Eastern Europe.
He said that the committee’s decision sets out detailed rules for Gazprom that significantly change the operation of the service on the central and eastern European gas markets. Accordingly, the Russian company must abolish all the restrictions it has placed against the cross-border sale of customers. It should allow gas to reach areas of Central and Eastern Europe, namely the Baltic States and Bulgaria, which are still isolated from other Member States because of the lack of a pipeline connecting the systems. The Russian company’s customers must have an effective tool to ensure that the price they pay for gas does not significantly deviate from the price level of Western European gas markets, especially from liquefied gas distribution centers. Gazprom should abandon its gas infrastructure benefits that it could gain through its gas supply dominance.
Gazprom has a dominant market position in gas transmission in several Central and Eastern European countries. The European Commission is of the opinion that the company has violated EU antitrust rules by pursuing a comprehensive strategy for the division of gas markets by national borders between eight EU Member States, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary and Slovakia. This strategy has allowed Gazprom to raise higher gas prices in five countries – Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.