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BRUSSELS, September 29 (Itar-Tass) — Checks by antimonopoly services of Gazprom’s affiliates and partners in Europe are not aimed at restraining Russian business in Europe, the spokeswoman for EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said on Thursday.
The European Commission ensures control over the observation of competition rules on the European market, and that is why it controls all companies operating in Europe irrespectively of who owns them, Maya Kotsyanchich said.
She repeated once again that Russia is one of strategic partners of the European Union, and cooperation with it in the energy sphere is very important for the EU, which expects that these relations will continue.
Last Tuesday experts of the European Commission and national antimonopoly agencies began sudden inspections of companies from ten countries, mainly from Central and Eastern Europe, engaged in supplies, transportation or sales of gas on the European market.
Earlier, spokesperson for the European Commission Amelia Torres said the European Commission believes some of these companies may have information about or be participants in schemes violating European competition norms, such as market sharing, obstructing the diversification of sources and ways of gas deliveries as well the access of new companies to gas network or abuse of a dominating position on the market for overpricing.
A representative of the European Commission told Tass that so far these are preliminary checks that must confirm or disprove the existing suspicions. In accordance with the existing code of conduct, it does not give the names of the companies, where checks have been made to avoid speculations.
In Germany, Gazprom’s partners RWE and E. ON Ruhrgas, as well as Gazprom affiliate Gazprom Germania were inspected. In Austria, OMV and its affiliate Econgas were checked, while in the Czech Republic it was Vemex, in which Gazprom also has a controlling stake.
Lietuvos Dujos was checked in Lithuania, and Eesti Gaas, where Gazprom is shareholder, was inspected in Estonia. Checks are made in Polish Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe I Gazownictwo (PGNiG) and in Gaz-System, which is technical operator of the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline.
Representatives of these companies have already made statements confirming inspections and pledging full cooperation with national and European antimonopoly agencies.
The European Commission did not advance claims to Nord Stream AG, which is implementing the North Stream gas pipeline project, a company representative told Tass.