Russia must agree to European Union requirements for an open natural gas market, the EU Energy Commissioner said, specifying that this implies that the price for imported Russian gas should be identical across the European Union.
"Our Russian partner understands our rules but doesn't accept them," Guenther Oettinger said at an energy conference in Lithuania. "It can't be that gas in some member states is 30% cheaper than in other member states," he said.
The European Parliament has also adopted a draft decision establishing an information exchange mechanism between member states and the European Commission on states’ intergovernmental agreements with third countries in the field of energy. Under the decision, member states are obliged to submit to the Commission all existing bilateral agreements with third countries. The Commission will then have nine months to inform the member state concerned “whether it has doubts after its initial assessment about compatibility with EU law”.
The decision comes amid the EU Commission’s anti-trust probe into Gazprom activities.
The European Commission is currently investigating whether Gazprom, the world’s largest gas exporter, resorted to unfair competition and price-fixing in Central and Eastern Europe’s natural gas markets. The EU, which gets 25% of its gas from Russia, claims that Gazprom has hindered the free flow of gas to its member states, preventing supply diversification and limiting customer choice in delivery points.
Brussels also suspects Gazprom of imposing unfair costs on its customers by linking the prices of gas and oil. Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree giving the government the right to protect natural gas giant Gazprom from an anti-trust probe by the European Union. The new law prohibits companies deemed strategic from disclosing information, disposing of assets or amending agreements without Russian authorities’ ratification in the case that the claims are initiated by foreign states or entities.