The EU may be divided on a number of issues, but it is standing strong on one: the unacceptable behavior of Russian gas giant Gazprom. Earlier this week, the European Commission opened an investigation into the company, claiming that it has been using its near-monopoly position to strong-arm Eastern European energy markets. The Financial Times reports:
The commission is probing, for example, whether Gazprom used export restrictions in its contracts to prevent customers in one EU country from selling excess gas supplies to another, according to people familiar with the matter.They are also examining whether Gazprom forced customers to support its pipelines – to the exclusion of rival projects – and are focusing on its pricing policies.
The EU has long been worried about Gazprom’s ability to leverage its close relationship with the Russian government, as well as Moscow’s tendency to overstep its bounds and throw its weight around. Russia has often toyed with the idea of playing European countries off each other in order to gain more influence in its own periphery. It looks like the EU has finally had enough.In the long term, the potential for vast new gas supplies in the Mediterranean may enable the EU to further remove itself from Russian influence. For now, the EU continues to push back very aggressively against what many in Europe feel is a dangerous concentration of power in the Kremlin.