EC's decision not to fine Gazprom would be strange, Lithuanian PM says

The European Commission's decision not to fine Russian gas giant Gazprom over its activity in Central and Eastern Europe would be strange, Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says.

"Now the significance of long-term contracts (on gas supplies – BNS) is completely gone as we use other ways and have alternatives, so that position and certain compensation and not fining it, if such a decision is made, it will be strange, but we need to look into the motives," the prime minister told journalists on Thursday.

The EC is set to announce its decision on Gazprom later on Thursday, following a six-year probe. According to Reuters, citing unidentified sources, Brussels will probably accept Gazprom's proposed concessions, and this way the gas giant will avoid a fine of up to 10 percent of its global turnover.

The Lithuanian prime minister also reminded that during a meeting with EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager over the almost 28 million euro fine for Lietuvos Geležinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways) he expressed hope the Commission would stay principled in other cases.

"During the meeting with European Commissioner Vestager, the government expressed its position when we spoke about our fine that there can be no selective judgment taking into account a company's size, and we stated very clearly that we hope the same decisions in similar cases," Skvernelis said.

Former Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, who led the Lithuanian government when the country initiated the dispute with Gazprom, says the Commission should have fined the Russian company, but, he added, the probe was beneficial for Lithuania in any case.

"In our opinion, with such violations, Gazprom should have been slammed with a fine similar to that issued, for example, to Google or Apple, when the fine can reach 10 percent of their annual revenue," Kubilius told journalists at the parliament on Thursday.

"Now, as far as I understand, due to various circumstances, including geopolitical and Nord Stream-ish, the Commission is renouncing such fines. Nevertheless, it at least made Gazprom change itself, change its activity, compared to what it was before the probe," the former prime minister said.

At Lithuania's initiative, the EC launched a probe in 2011 into Gazprom's activity in eights countries. In April, 2015, the EC said the Russian gas giant might have set unfair gas prices and abused its dominant position. It was said then the Russian company might face a fine of up to 8 billion euros.

Source: BNS
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