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Brussels, 12 June 2008

Antitrust: Commission confirms sending Statement of Objections to E.ON and Gaz de France concerning alleged sharing of French and German gas markets

The European Commission can confirm that it has sent a Statement of Objections to E.ON AG (E.ON), E.ON Ruhrgas AG and Gaz de France (GDF), concerning their alleged agreement or concerted practice to keep out of each other's home market for the supply of gas, even after the liberalisation of the European gas markets, in violation of EC Treaty rules on restrictive business practices (Article 81) ).

E.ON, through its subsidiary E.ON Ruhrgas AG, and GDF are the leading suppliers of natural gas in Germany and France, respectively, and two of the largest players in the European gas industry.

The case arises out of the surprise inspections carried out in 2006 on E.ON and Gaz de France premises in Germany and France (see MEMO/06/205). The Commission opened formal proceedings in July 2007 (see MEMO/07/316).

The alleged infringement takes the form of a suspected agreement and/or concerted practice between E.ON and GDF, according to which they would not sell gas in the other party's home market to any significant extent. This alleged agreement and/or concerted practice concerns in particular supplies of natural gas transported over the MEGAL pipeline, which is jointly owned by E.ON and GDF and transports gas across Southern Germany between the German-Czech and German-Austrian borders on the one side and the French-German border on the other side.

Procedural background

A Statement of Objections is a formal step in Commission antitrust investigations in which the Commission informs the parties concerned in writing of the objections raised against them. The addressee of a Statement of Objections can reply in writing to the Statement of Objections, setting out all facts known to it which are relevant to its defence against the objections raised by the Commission. The party may also request an oral hearing to present its comments on the case.

The Commission may then take a decision on whether conduct addressed in the Statement of Objections is compatible or not with the EC Treaty’s antitrust rules. Sending a Statement of Objections does not prejudge the final outcome of the procedure.

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