Russian gas giant Gazprom clinched a deal with EU antitrust regulators on Thursday to reform its pricing structure and allow rivals a foothold in eastern Europe, avoiding fines in a case that has dragged on for seven years.
Europe’s competition enforcer said Gazprom’s concessions allay concerns of market abuse, ending the EU’s longest running antitrust saga that began with dawn raids at 20 offices in 10 countries in 2011.
The EU’s decision to accept Gazprom’s offer has allowed it to escape fines of as much as 10 percent of its global turnover – an outcome that has angered Poland and eastern EU countries which have sought a tougher line from Brussels.
The outlines of the settlement were mapped out more than a year ago, and finalised earlier this year, as Reuters previously reported. But it was delayed by critical feedback from several of the eight member states in the east at the center of the case, all countries formerly dominated by Moscow.
Many are angered by the move to smooth business ties with Gazprom, run by Alexei Miller, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin – contrasting it with hefty fines against multinationals such as U.S. tech giant Google.