The European Commission (Commission) has imposed fines each totalling €553 million on E.ON AG (Germany) and GDF Suez AG (France) – the leading suppliers of natural gas in Germany and France. The Commission found that the companies had colluded not to sell gas transported to Russia into each other's home market. The size of the fines reflects the fact that it concerned the "hard-core" offence of market sharing and that the agreement had endured long after the EU gas markets were liberalised. It also takes into account the size of the entities and the volumes of gas affected. The arrangements began in 1975 – subsidiaries of what are now E.ON and GDF Suez constructed the MEGAL gas pipeline between Southern Germany and France. At the time, the companies agreed not to sell any gas into each others’ home territory. The Commission held that the market sharing agreement was maintained beyond liberalisation in 2000, and were only terminated in 2005. The parties concerned argue that the arrangement was ineffective from an earlier date, and it seems likely that the decision will be appealed.
Commissions investigations into Energy markets
In the late 1990's the gas and electricity markets were liberalised. The gas markets were, therefore, opened up for cross-border competition in 2000.
Since its 2006 inquiry into the energy sector, the Commission has launched a number of investigations into the gas and electricity markets across the EU. his is the first fine to be imposed for breach of the antitrust rules in the energy sector since the sector was opened up to cross-border competition.