EU opens anti-trust investigation against Bulgarian Energy Holding
The European Commission said on December 3 that it has opened a formal investigation into whether Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH), the umbrella corporation set up in 2008 to hold most state-owned companies in the energy sector, might be abusing its dominant market position in the wholesale electricity market in the country.
“The Commission has concerns that Bulgarian Energy Holding might be hindering competition on wholesale electricity markets in Bulgaria and neighbouring member states through territorial restrictions,” the EC said in a statement.
The opening of the investigation did not “prejudge the outcome of the investigation”, only a sign that the EC would treat the case as a matter of priority, the Commission said.
The investigation would focus on certain provisions in electricity supply agreements signed by BEH subsidiaries. “These provisions may restrict their trading partners’ freedom to deliver electricity purchased from Bulgarian Energy Holding by prescribing where the electricity has to be delivered. According to these provisions, electricity supplied by BEH may for example be resold only within Bulgaria and not exported,” the EC said.
“These contractual provisions may constitute territorial restrictions and have the effect of distorting the allocation of electricity within the Single Market and partitioning electricity markets along national lines. Such a practice would both hinder competition and undermine the integration of EU electricity markets.”
EC’s anti-trust investigations have no deadlines, but their resolution depends on the complexity of the case and the co-operation of the parties involved. The EC said that it has notified BEH and Bulgaria’s anti-trust regulator of its investigation.