BRUSSELS, April 16 (Reuters) - The European Union’s competition chief sent a warning shot to Russian gas giant Gazprom on Thursday when she pledged to act decisively against energy companies that break competition law.
The European Commission has been investigating Gazprom for more than two years for allegedly over-charging customers in eastern Europe, thwarting rival suppliers and blocking the free flow of gas across the region.
Margrethe Vestager, making her first U.S. trip since she took office in November, said in a speech in Washington she would be tough with energy companies that “harm rivals, block energy flows from on EU country to another, or threaten to close the tap.”
Although she did not mention Gazprom by name, her speech comes in the wake of remarks by the bloc’s energy chief that the Commission would present the results of the Gazprom investigation very soon.
The probe was put on hold last year following the crisis in Ukraine. Vestager’s spokesman has said the Commission is ready to move forward with the case.
On Wednesday, Vestager showed her tough streak by charging U.S. Internet giant Google with anti-competitive behaviour in Web searches, after her predecessor tried and failed three times to settle with the company. (Reporting by Julia Fioretti. Editing by Jane Merriman)