EU-Russian relations take another hit with Brussels’ charges against Gazprom.
Gazprom called the charges “unfounded” and Russia’s Foreign Minister said the EU was trying to retroactively apply new rules to long-standing contracts.
“That is absolutely unacceptable, at least because we have had the Partnership and Cooperation agreement with the EU from 1999 which no-one cancelled, and it is written there that the parties shall not take actions that will lead to the deterioration of business conditions,” Sergei Lavrov said.
The European Commission can hand fines of up to 10 percent of a company’s global sales – that could mean a penalty of $10 billion for Gazprom.
Brussels takes aim at firms who abuse their market position, and just last week it attacked U.S. giant Google.
“These cases are not political,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told a news conference. “And hopefully the one thing that they have in common is that they are competition cases, built on fact, interpretation of facts, and evidence.”
The Gazprom probe started in September 2012, before Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and angered the West.
Gazprom supplies nearly a third of the EU’s gas – and half of that goes through pipelines in Ukraine.