Vestager, Gazprom to meet this month on antitrust charges

31 January 2017 9:57am

5th October 2016. By Matthew Newman

Europe’s top antitrust enforcer, Margrethe Vestager, and a senior Gazprom official have scheduled to meet later this month to try to settle EU charges that the Russian gas giant breaks antitrust rules by illegally partitioning markets in Central Europe to hike prices.

Vestager and Deputy Chairman Alexander Medvedev in Brussels plan to meet Oct. 26, provided that progress is made on resolving technical issues, it is understood. The two sides have held several rounds of talks since the European Commission sent official charges to the state-controlled company in April 2015.

The commission has also said Gazprom has pushed up prices through the way it benchmarked its sales to oil prices.

Gazprom has contested the accusations of excessive prices. The company has argued that EU officials should see its gas contracts in the context of intergovernmental agreements. It also said it had a “special” role given its state ownership.

But Gazprom has also been eager to resolve the dispute. Medvedev has said he would like to find a “mutually acceptable solution.”

Under EU rules, the commission can settle antitrust cases if a company agrees to change its behavior to address the watchdog’s concerns. A company can also commit itself to divesting assets. It doesn’t have to admit to any wrongdoing.

A Russian government official would also attend the meeting, it is understood.

A commission spokesman declined to comment.

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