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A case of abuse of dominant position in the energy sector

Question écrite de - Commission européenne

Question de ,

Diffusée le 4 mars 2019

Subject: A case of abuse of dominant position in the energy sector

On 17 December 2018, the Commission adopted an infringement decision against the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) Group1 and issued a fine of EUR 77 million for blocking access to natural gas infrastructure in Bulgaria2.

Given the types of conduct identified by the Commission and BEH’s announcement that it will appeal the decision:

How will the Commission ensure that BEH and Bulgartransgaz implement the measures needed in order for the Bulgaria-Greece interconnector and BRUA pipeline to come to fruition?

What guarantees did the Commission obtain or impose in order to ensure that BEH and Bulgartransgaz will cooperate with the neighbouring transmission system operators, in accordance with their regulatory and contractual duties, so as to make the Bulgaria-Greece interconnector and BRUA pipeline operational and serve EU citizens in the south-east of Europe?

1 Case AT.39849 in which, according to an official press release from the Commission, BEH denied

competitors access to: the domestic Bulgarian gas transmission network; the only gas storage facility in Bulgaria; and the only import pipeline bringing gas into Bulgaria, which was fully booked by BEH. BEH’s conduct constituted an abuse of a dominant position (Article 102 TFEU). 2 The Commission explained that its decision to remove the barriers to entry for competitors in the Bulgarian

markets would allow the Bulgarian wholesale gas market to function more efficiently. It also stated that this would be further facilitated by the recent opening of both the ‘gas interconnector between Bulgaria and Greece’, for which it had approved public support on 8 November 2018, and the ‘Bulgaria–Romania– Hungary–Austria (BRUA) energy cooperation project’, which will ‘enable Bulgarian wholesalers to diversify their supply sources’.

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 7 avril 2019

Answer given by Ms Vestager on behalf of the European Commission

(8 April 2019)

On 17 December 2018, the Commission fined Bulgarian Energy Holding, its gas supply subsidiary Bulgargaz and its gas infrastructure subsidiary Bulgartransgaz (the BEH group) for blocking competitors’ access to key gas infrastructure in Bulgaria. The Commission’s decision found that BEH and its subsidiaries abused their dominant positions by foreclosing entry into the Bulgarian gas supply markets.

The Commission’s decision established that the BEH group must immediately bring to an end the infringement, insofar as they had not already effectively done so and refrain from repeating any act or conduct described in the decision. As a result, the Commission’s decision with a fine already has a deterrent effect, ensuring that the BEH group will not repeat the infringement.

As regards the Greece-Bulgaria gas interconnector, in its November 2018 State aid decision (3), the Commission allowed the BEH group to reserve up to 40% of the interconnector's capacity, ensuring that there is scope for potential new entrants to compete with the BEH group.

Bulgartransgaz is obliged to implement the internal market legislation including all Network Codes that foresee among others interconnection agreements with neighbouring transmission system operators in compliance with the Network Code Interoperability. The Commission is closely monitoring and facilitating progress on the implementation of these projects in the context of its regional initiative on Central and South-Eastern European Energy Connectivity (CESEC).

⋅1∙ Case AT.39849 in which, according to an official press release from the Commission, BEH denied competitors access to: the domestic Bulgarian gas transmission

network; the only gas storage facility in Bulgaria; and the only import pipeline bringing gas into Bulgaria, which was fully booked by BEH. BEH’s conduct constituted an abuse of a dominant position (Article 102 TFEU).

⋅2∙ The Commission explained that its decision to remove the barriers to entry for competitors in the Bulgarian markets would allow the Bulgarian wholesale gas market

to function more efficiently. It also stated that this would be further facilitated by the recent opening of both the ‘gas interconnector between Bulgaria and Greece’, for which it had approved public support on 8 November 2018, and the ‘Bulgaria‐Romania–Hungary‐Austria (BRUA) energy cooperation project’, which will ‘enable Bulgarian wholesalers to diversify their supply sources’.

⋅3∙ http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-18-6342_en.htm





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