The European Commission will need to reconsider its rejection of the Polish PGNiG’s complaint against Gazprom’s anti-competitive practices in the Polish market after the General Court of the European Union annulled the decision of the Commission and agreed with the company.
The Court ruled on two actions. The first one concerned a 2018 decision accepting Gazprom’s commitments proposed as a result of the Commission’s antitrust investigation.
In the second case, the EU General Court concurred with the Company. It stated that the Commission had made a manifest error of assessment when it referred to the Gaz-System certification decision which was issued in 2015 by the Polish Energy Regulator to justify the rejection of PGNiG’s complaint where it concerned the Yamal Pipeline.
“Our victory before the EU General Court means that the European Commission 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,” emphasised Paweł Majewski, President of the PGNiG SA Management Board.
“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,” he added.
Between 2012 and 2018, the Commission investigated Gazprom’s monopolistic practices in Central and Eastern Europe, including Poland. The allegations against Gazprom included obstructing gas trade between EU countries in the region and charging them abnormally high gas prices.
At the same time, the General Court ruled to dismiss the Company’s action against the European Commission’s decision of 2018 accepting Gazprom’s Commitments.
However, according to the official statement of PGNiG, the General Court’s judgments have not confirmed the legality of Gazprom’s actions.
Paweł Majewski stressed that “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,” he concluded.