EC Opens Antitrust Proceedings against Bulgarian Energy Holding

December 3, 2012, Monday // 02:10
Bulgaria: EC Opens Antitrust Proceedings against Bulgarian Energy Holding
Illustration Picture showing the EU flags in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 14 June 2012. Photo by EPA/BGNES

The European Commission has has opened formal proceedings to investigate whether the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) may be abusing its dominant market position in the wholesale electricity market in Bulgaria.

The Commission has concerns that BEH might be hindering competition on wholesale electricity markets in Bulgaria and neighboring Member States through territorial restrictions.

Such behavior would breach EU antitrust rules, the Commission notes.

An opening of proceedings does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation; it only means that the Commission will treat the case as a matter of priority.

The Commission is investigating certain provisions in electricity supply agreements entered into by subsidiaries of BEH.

These provisions may restrict their trading partners' freedom to deliver electricity purchased from BEH 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.

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.

There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anti-competitive conduct.

The duration of an antitrust investigation depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the extent to which the undertaking concerned cooperates with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defense.

The Commission has informed Bulgarian Energy Holding EAD and the Bulgarian competition authority that it has opened proceedings in this case.

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