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PGNiG wins case concerning Gazprom’s abusive market behaviour

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Pipelines,

The General Court of the EU has agreed with PGNiG and annulled the decision of the European Commission (EC) rejecting the Polish company’s complaint against Gazprom’s anticompetitive practices. The EC will need to reconsider the case.

On Wednesday, The General Court of the EU ruled on two actions for annulment lodged by PGNiG SA against decisions of the EC. The first action concerned a 2018 decision accepting Gazprom’s commitments proposed as a result of the Commission’s antitrust investigation. The other action concerned a 2019 decision in which the Commission had rejected PGNiG’s complaint of 2017 about Gazprom’s monopolistic practices in the Polish market.

In the latter case, the EU General Court agreed with the Company, annulling the Commission’s decision. The judgement stated that the Commission had made a manifest error of assessment referring to the Gaz-System certification decision issued in 2015 by the Polish Energy Regulator to justify the rejection of PGNiG’s complaint where it concerned the Yamal Pipeline. The Court also concluded that the Commission had infringed the Company’s procedural rights.

“Our victory before the EU General Court means that the EC must reconsider PGNiG’s complaint of 2017. We hope that the Commission will take the opportunity provided by today’s judgment to take decisive action against Gazprom’s violations of competition law. It should be stressed that most of Gazprom’s practices complained against by PGNiG have continued to this day and should be subject to an in-depth investigation by the Commission because of their potential effect on the European gas market,” said Pawel Majewski, President of the PGNiG SA Management Board.

At the same time, the General Court ruled to dismiss the Company’s action against the EC’s decision of 2018 accepting Gazprom’s Commitments. PGNiG reiterates its negative opinion on the decision accepting Gazprom’s Commitments and the arrangements adopted therein, which it has expressed repeatedly, both in the course of the Commission’s market test undertaken in 2017 and later in its pleadings.

It should be emphasised that the General Court’s judgment has not confirmed in any way the legality of Gazprom’s actions – both current and past. Its judgments merely state that the Commission, in issuing its decisions, did commit some errors and infringements, but not providing sufficient grounds for annulment of the commitments decision.

“The ruling to uphold the Commission’s decision of 2018 may reinforce Gazprom’s belief that the practices involving abuse of its dominant position on the European gas market will be treated leniently by EU institutions. The lack of a firm response to such practices in the past may even have emboldened Gazprom to cut supplies and not fill up its storage facilities in the EU, which is largely the reason for the historically high level of gas prices currently prevailing across the European wholesale markets,” stressed Pawel Majewski.

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