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Brussels, 17 th December 2009

Antitrust: Commission welcomes E.ON proposals to increase competition in German gas market

The European Commission welcomes remedies offered by the German energy company E.ON in response to concerns expressed by the Commission that certain E.ON practices may constitute a breach of EU rules on abuse of a dominant market position (Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)). E.ON proposes to commit to a significant, structural reduction of its long-term gas capacity reservations which prevent access of competitors to infrastructure needed to supply gas to customers within EON's network. The Commission intends to market test E.ON's proposals, with a view to adopting a decision under Article 9 of Regulation 1/2003. Under such a procedure, the commitments would be made legally binding by a decision of the Commission and the Commission would not pursue the antitrust investigation further.

The Commission’s main concern is that E.ON may have closed off competitors from the market by booking almost the entire capacity at key entry points into the gas network on a long-term basis, thereby potentially abusing its dominant position in the markets for the supply of gas in Germany (for a parallel case, see the recent decision in the GdF Suez case MEMO/09/536 ). New entrants into gas markets necessarily require access to gas transport infrastructure, notably transport capacity at the entry points into the gas network. Insufficient access to networks can limit their ability to acquire customers, no matter how competitive their offers are. Preventing new entrants from gaining access to infrastructure can therefore hinder the development of competition in energy markets.

The Commission welcomes these proposed commitments since they could provide a solution to the concerns it has identified. They could therefore constitute a major step towards facilitating competition in the German gas sector to the benefit of domestic and industrial gas customers.

The Commission will continue to conduct antitrust investigations in the energy sector.

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