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BRUSSELS, April 22. /TASS/. The European Commission (EC) prefers to hold talks over antimonopoly claims to the Russian gas giant Gazprom with representatives of the company and not with the Russian government, a source in European institutions told TASS Wednesday.
The EC "strives not to politicize the deal though to solve it in essence," the source said, adding that Gazprom has 12 weeks to formulate its position over the EC’s claims.
"No doubt the problem of investigation is referred to during talks with representatives of the Russian government. However, the essence of claims to the Russian company should be discussed with its authorized officials," he said.
"We understand what role Gazprom plays in Russia and we hear claims that Russia uses the company as a tool in its foreign policy. However, the EC views this deal as a local problem of changing some particular business strategies of the Russian company, and not as a global task of robbing Gazprom of his position on the European market. Needless to say that Gazprom is Europe’s key gas supplier and it’s impossible to do without it," he added.
In its statement Gazprom said the talks over the EC’s antimonopoly claims should be held at the intergovernmental level.
According to the source, the antimonopoly probe of the European Commission into Russian gas giant Gazprom may end without imposing penalties at all.
"If Gazprom and the European Commission find the way to change challenging business strategies of the company in Europe acceptable from standpoint of European norms, a penalty for the Russian gas holding may not be needed at all," the source said.
European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said on Wednesday Gazprom is extremely important for Europe but there is a problem with the company’s certain commercial practices.
The European competition envoy made her statement as part of the EU’s anti-trust probe into Gazprom’s operations in Europe.
"Gazprom is a large, highly professional company, which is extremely important for Europe. The European Commission does not have a problem with Gazprom as a company but the European Commission has a problem with some of its commercial practices on the European gas market. They should be discussed," she said.