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Fines for gas giants top billion euros

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Fines for gas giants top billion euros

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German utility E.ON and GDF Suez of France have been served with fines totalling more than 1.1 billion euros by the European competition authorities for carving up gas markets. Both companies are contesting the decision.

The Competition Commissioner said the fines were the first for such an infringement in the energy sector. Neelie Kroes said that consumers of two of the European major markets had paid more while companies profited at their expense. This was exploitation of consumers, she said, by companies that were already in a privileged and profitable position: “So the Commission had no alternative than to impose high fines.” Each company was fined 553 million euros for agreeing in 1975 not to compete with one another on their national gas markets when they jointly built a pipeline to import Russian gas. Brussels said they maintained the market-sharing agreement after European gas markets were liberalised, and only abandoned it in 2005. The first Gas Directive came into force in 1998.