A structural remedies plan put forward by the Italian energy company ENI, in answer to suspicions that it could be in breach of EU competition law, has been well received by the European Commission. In March 2009, the Commission issued a Statement of Objections alleging that ENI had abused its dominant position in the Italian gas markets, contrary to Article 102 TFEU, in its management of various gas transmission pipelines. Citing tactics such as refusing to grant competitors proper access to capacity on the transport network and strategically limiting investment in its international pipeline system, the Commission voiced concerns that ENI’s behaviour could weaken competition in the gas markets and ultimately harm consumers. In light of this, ENI offered to divest its shares in the TAG, TENP and Transitgas transport pipelines. The Commission considers that this will both facilitate competition in the gas markets and help to address another concern, namely the potential conflict of interests resulting from the company’s vertical integration. Before formally accepting the offered commitments, the Commission will ‘market test’ them, seeking feedback from interested third parties.
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ENI’s proposals to increase competition in the Italian gas market
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