Following on from last week's strained exchanges between Brussels and Moscow, the EU has sought to mend bridges with Russian gas major Gazprom. At the same time however, the EU is poised to take a more stringemt line with Madrid over its role in the Endesa takeover saga.
Following Gazprom’s accusation that the EU was looking to block its expansion into western Europe last week sparked a heated exchange, Brussels has attempted to cool matters this week by assuring the Russian gas giant that it will be afforded the same opportunities as any other company.
However, in a move to show it was not intending to let Gazprom dictate the issue, Andris Piebalgs, the European Union’s energy commissioner, also stressed that Gazprom’s position as a major supplier of gas to the EU zone would be taken into account during antitrust evaluations on any proposed takeovers.
While stressing to the Russian government in a letter that there was ‘no question’ of discrimination against Gazprom, Mr Piebalgs also made the point that the gas supplier would also be subject to stringent antitrust conditions like any other company conducting business in the EU.
Furthermore, Mr Piebalgs described Gazprom’s role as exclusive gas exporter from Russia to the EU as a significant factor in any competition review.
Meanwhile, Brussels is to flex its muscles towards Spain by initiating legal proceeding against the Spanish government for essentially giving the Spanish energy regulator the power to block E.ON’s bid for Endesa.
The EU energy authority has now formally requested an explanation for its conduct, having already admonished the Madrid government for its actions. If Spain fails to give satisfactorily answers the matter could end up at the Europe Court of Justice.
The EU has already approved E.ON’s bid, but Spanish authorities have yet to do likewise.