Russia’s grip on EU gas supplies has reportedly been exposed by leaked documents, exposing alleged violations of European law over almost a decade.
An investigation says state-run gas giant Gazprom has pressured vulnerable Central European states to fragment the EU energy market with coercive pricing policies.
The Statement of Objectives report says Germany benefits from beneficial treatment from Gazprom, gaining a competitive advantage in gas costs at the expense of fellow EU states.
The report is a confidential indictment or charge sheet by the competition directorate, issued in 2015 after four years of investigation.
The vehemently anti-EU Daily Express opined: “The leak is highly embarrassing for the the EU’s competition directorate, as it implies the commission gained a full understanding of the ‘abusive’ techniques employed by the company, and nevertheless turned a blind eye, with large countries such as Germany benefiting.”
The European Commission leak reportedly suggests Bulgaria was particularly vulnerable, while Poland was forced to pay exorbitant prices for pipeline gas from Siberia.
The papers, leaked to MEPs, imply that Brussels was willing to make an accommodation with Moscow, in violation of competition rules, the Eurosceptic Daily Telegraph reported.
Both the Express and Telegraph are pro-Brexit newspapers with a clear agenda to undermine the European Union.
“This is a very big deal. What the documents show is that there was systematic abuse of dominant position, and that it was clearly done for political purposes,” said Professor Alan Riley, a scholar of EU energy law at the Atlantic Council think tank.
“Gazprom was splitting the European energy market at every point. And now the commission is minded to do a deal that treats the [central] Europeans as if they were not member states at all,” Riley said.
Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who has pursued Google and Apple as a threat to European democracy, is accused of double standards over Gazprom.
The leaked report allegedly says Gazprom engaged in “abusive behaviour”, charging “unfair prices” and abusing its “dominant position”.
“The commission considers that the infringement has been committed intentionally. Gazprom is fully aware of the illegal nature of at least some of the various contractual and non-contractual measures,” the report said.
It said Gazprom was charging Poland US$350 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas, compared with US$200 in Germany, where the cost should have been higher. The apparent justification was to punish Poland for refusing to cede control over its section of the pipeline to Russia. Germany is the chief champion of Gazprom’s interests in Brussels. Poland claims Germany has suppressed the full findings of the enquiry.
“What we’re told is that the commission wants an amicable settlement and has already decided to do this deal. It is disloyal and Poland is one of the victims, but not the only one,” said Jacek Saryusz-Wolski MEP, Poland’s former Europe minister.
“The documents show beyond any doubt that Gazprom has trespassed on EU law for years, and the commission is about to issue a de-facto acquittal anyway. They are they are doing this in the context of a silent war by Russia. This is all about vested interests,” the Polish politician said.
Gazprom is key to the EU. Picture credit: YouTube