EU anti-trust regulators have charged Russian gas giant Gazprom with abusing its dominant position in Poland, Hungary and six other countries in Eastern Europe. David Pollard reports.
Europe's anti-trust watchdog bares its teeth again. A week after taking on the might of Google, another giant's in its sights: Russia's Gazprom. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU COMMISSIONER FOR COMPETITION, MARGRETHE VESTAGER, SAYING: "What we say in the statement of objection is that our preliminary view alleges that Gazprom is abusing this dominant position." Eight countries are in focus - the three Baltic states and five eastern European nations. Gazprom is dominant in all those markets, says the EU, overcharging buyers, and hindering competition. Vestager said prices in some were as much as 40 per cent higher than others. That partly because Gazprom prohibits the reexport of its supplies. Europe's relations with Russia are already at a low over Ukraine. With the EU depending on Russia for nearly a third of its supplies, one hope is for the gas dispute to be resolved - sooner rather than later. Credit Agricole's Adam Myers. SOUNDBITE (English) ADAM MYERS, FOREX STRATEGIST, CREDIT AGRICOLE, SAYING: ''Ultimately, especially by the time the European winter of 2015/2016 rolls around, I would expect there would be some sort of an agreement, even if it's not a political agreement, behind the scenes, because of course without that revenue stream flowing to Russia and without that energy flow flowing to the European Union, I think we will be in for a very, very difficult winter in 2016.'' For her part, Vestager says politics has no role in this decision. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU COMMISSIONER FOR COMPETITION, MARGRETHE VESTAGER, SAYING: "No matter the flag of the company, doing business in Europe implies to comply with European rules and regulation." Gazprom has annual sales of some $100 billion. It's been under investigation since September 2012 - and calls the charges 'unfounded'. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has already reacted too - denouncing the charges as ''unacceptable''.