Poland attacks EU’s Gazprom deal in court

What is the future for the EU's Charter of Fundamental rights? [nitpicker/Shutterstock]

Poland’s state-run gas firm PGNiG said on Tuesday (16 October) it filed a complaint with the EU’s top court against a controversial deal by the European Commission to settle an anti-trust case against Gazprom, the Kremlin-backed energy giant.

The deal struck in May allowed Gazprom to avoid billions in fines after eastern EU members like Poland claimed the Russian giant had abused its dominant position as a gas provider in their region.

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Poland is spearheading criticism of the Commission’s proposed “entente” that would end a five-year antitrust case against Gazprom for abusing its dominant position in eight countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

The settlement with the EU came after Gazprom agreed to benchmark prices in eastern Europe against prices in the rest of Europe, and to drop clauses restricting the re-export of gas by clients.

But PGNiG alleged in a Tuesday statement that Gazprom has “not ceased to violate EU law” and that the settlement has allowed it to “continue to inflate gas prices to its recipients in Central and Eastern Europe.”

PGNiG said in an emailed statement that it had “appealed to the European Court of Justice of the EU in Luxembourg against the May 24, 2018 decision of the European Commission ending years of anti-trust proceedings against Gazprom.

It added that the “commission failed to exercise due diligence” preparing its decision that was “issued in gross conflict with the evidence collected and in breach of a number of provisions of EU law.”

Germany is understood to be a major backer of the deal as it nurtures special relations with Gazprom, a major national energy provider through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

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Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has maintained close ties to the company and to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The EU has been investigating Gazprom since 2011 over claims it abused its dominant position with unfair prices and restrictive terms in eight EU countries, all former satellites of the Soviet empire keen to ease their dependence on Russian gas by diversifying suppliers.

To this end, Poland has begun importing LNG from the US and Qatar.

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