Europe closes GDF Suez monopoly probe

Dec. 4, 2009 at 11:21 AM

BRUSSELS, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Commitments by French energy giant GDF Suez to ease its grip on the national gas sector prompted the European Commission to close its monopoly investigation.

The European Commission in May 2006 complained GDF Suez had blocked access to the French gas market to other potential suppliers. The commission said it was concerned that behavior was violating rules in the European Union concerning market domination.

GDF Suez proposed to eventually release a significant portion of its reservations of the gas import capacity into France to below 50 percent.

The European Commission said it adopted a decision that binds GDF Suez to its commitment.

"The remedies offered by GDF Suez provide a real opportunity for competitors to enter the French gas market and so offer energy consumers greater choice of gas supplier and more competitive prices," said European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes.

The commission said if GDF Suez were to violate the terms of the agreement, the company could face a penalty equal to 10 percent of its annual turnover without having to prove there was a violation of EU competition rules.

The commission added the investigation was now closed.

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