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EU Commission Launches Investigations for Breach of Antitrust Rules in the Natural Gas Sector

The European Commission confirmed on 27 September that it had started a series of unannounced inspections at the office of several companies operating in the supply, transmission and storage of natural gas.

The inspections are motivated by concerns about anticompetitive practices in breach of EU antitrust rules or that they are informed of such practices.

The Commission is giving more details on the nature of the inspections in a MEMO (MEMO/11/641 available HERE):

"The Commission is investigating potential anticompetitive practices in the supply of natural gas in Central and Eastern European Member States. The investigation focuses on the upstream supply level, where, unilaterally or through agreements, competition may be hampered or delayed. The Commission suspects exclusionary behaviour, such as market partitioning, obstacles to network access, barriers to supply diversification, as well as possible exploitative behaviour, such as excessive pricing. Any such behaviour could be in breach of EU antitrust rules that prohibit abuse of dominant positions and restrictive business practices (respectively Articles 102 and 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – TFEU)."
"At the same time, the Commission is also investigating suspicions of anticompetitive behaviour to the detriment of upstream suppliers themselves."
"As usual, the Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities."