The European Union will launch a legal attack on Russian gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) this week, ramping up tensions with Moscow, when antitrust agents will accuse it of overcharging buyers in eastern Europe, EU sources told Reuters on Monday. The state-controlled company, a vital supplier of energy to Europe despite frequent political disputes, could receive a full charge sheet from European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Wednesday, one source said.
Vestager is sending a message that her mandate is not about settling cases. Sending a statement of objections to Gazprom now would be her way of saying that she will focus on the substance of the case regardless of the political implications.
Mario Mariniello, a former economist at the Commission and now an expert at Brussels
Despite the Danish commissioner’s insistence that she would look at only the legal merits of a case that focuses on Gazprom pricing policies differentiating between customers, the accusations will do nothing to ease EU frictions with Moscow over Ukraine in which gas supplies have played a major role. Gazprom tried to settle the case last year by offering concessions to Vestager’s predecessor but talks floundered over its refusal to cut prices for eastern European customers.