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EU/ Russia: Lack of Gazprom sanctions signals DGComp weakness to some

 |  August 11, 2014

As Western government continue to impose sanctions against Russia following the crisis in Ukraine, reports note that officials have yet to crack down on Russia’s gas industry, even as the EU’s competition case against Gazprom remains open.

Before the Ukraine crisis, the European Commission had launched an investigation into Gazprom with suspicion that the gas giant unfairly inflated prices and unfairly restricted gas distribution across the EU. Russia and the EU were reportedly on the verge of settling the matter last year.

Now, however, the case seems to be dissolving as little action has been seen since the conflict between Russia and Ukraine erupted. The matter is made more troubling, some experts say, because the EU and US have imposed sanctions on Russia for its actions in Ukraine, but those sanctions have shied away from including the gas industry.

Further, say reports, it is still unclear whether the case will be revived by European Commissioner Joaquin Almunia’s predecessor after Almunia departs his post this fall.

The case suggests to some experts that “the sanctions war may be more about symbolic actions than imposing far-reaching economic pain on either side,” the New York Times suggests.

Lithuania, which is particularly dependent on Russian energy imports, argues that the Commission has showed great weakness in declining to impose sanctions against Russia and Gazprom involving gas assets. Lithuania energy minister Jaroslav Neverovi argues that the Gazprom case shows that “the commission is weak and not in a position to defend our own rules” because it has not pushed forward with cracking down on Gazprom abuses.

Lithuania sent a complaint against Gazprom to the EU Commission three years ago.

According to reports, six EU member states are dependent upon Russia for all of their gas.

Full content: NYTimes

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