Google isn't the only one feeling the heat from the European Commission (EC). Americans.org learned this morning that the EU competition regulator has charged Gazprom, the Russian state energy company, with abusing its dominant market position. The charges concern the Central and Eastern European gas markets according to a statement released by the EC.
The Commission said its preliminary view was that the Russian energy giant was breaking EU anti-trust rules by limiting its customers' ability to resell gas which allowed it to charge unfair prices in some EU member states.
The move is likely to interfere with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s economic and geopolitical strategy of setting prices favoring some customers and penalizing others, in line with whom he perceives as sympathetic and hostile to his increasingly belligerent agenda. Russia is a supplier of about one-third of the European Union’s natural gas.
Gazprom has openly acknowledged its ties to the Kremlin by previously warning Brussels that it has the “status of a strategic organization” in Russia. Putin's government earns significant sums from the company.
The charges make it likely that Gazprom will eventually face a fine of over 10 billion euros, or about $10.7 billion. Long term the action will impact the firm's profits by being forced to allow more competition in markets it has long controlled.
Gazprom now has 12 weeks to respond to the EC's objections.