Russia’s Gazprom slams ‘unfounded’ EU charges
Russian energy giant Gazprom rejected on Wednesday EU accusations that it was abusing its dominant market position in Europe, calling the charges unjustified.
“Gazprom considers the objections put forward by the European Commission to be unfounded,” the company said in a statement.
“Gazprom strictly adheres to all the norms of international law and national legislation in the countries where the Gazprom Group conducts business.”
The European Commission, the EU’s powerful executive arm, earlier Wednesday formally charged Gazprom with abusing its market position in Europe, in a move that risked inflaming tensions with Russia further.
Gazprom now risks fines as high as 10 percent of the company’s overall annual sales.
The Russian gas giant, which many critics accuse of being the Kremlin’s political tool, has 12 weeks to respond.
Gazprom said that the so-called “statement of objections” approved by the European Commission did not amount to a guilty verdict, calling it “only one of the stages within the on-going antitrust investigation.”
“We also expect that it will be duly noted that Gazprom was established beyond the jurisdiction of the EU,” the company said.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defended the company, saying regulations could not be applied retroactively.
“All existing contracts which Gazprom has with its partners were concluded in full accordance with the legal regime that existed in the EU at the time,” he said in televised remarks.
Russia’s top diplomat also expressed confidence the two sides would be able to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
“I am sure that all those new projects which are now being discussed — the Turkish Stream first and foremost — are in Europe’s interests.”
The Turkish Stream is a new gas pipeline which Moscow has championed after scrapping the South Stream pipeline to southern Europe amid a spike in tensions over Ukraine.