The European Commission accepts ENI commitments.
The ENI case was launched following an energy sector inquiry whose conclusions, among other things, stressed that ENI's behaviour was blocking competitors' access to the transport infrastructure that was needed to import gas into Italy, and this was to the detriment of consumers. ENI is a major Italian gas supplier and an operator of transport pipelines, as well as a retailer to customers in the Italian wholesale market.
Deeming that ENI could be in breach of EU rules by committing an abuse of a dominant market position, the Commission opened proceedings in May 2007.
ENI submitted a set of commitments which might address the Commission's competition concerns.
In fact, ENI proposed structural remedies which practically entailed the full divestiture of all ENI's shares in gas transport pipelines where the European Competition had competition concerns.
In February 2010, the Commission accepted the commitments made by ENI towards improving competition in the energy sector.
Structural remedies were necessary since the European Commission was aware of the conflict of interests that ENI faced. Any incentive for ENI to make additional profits from transporting more gas in its pipelines was more than outweighed by the incentive for ENI to maximise its profits from selling gas to customers in the Italian wholesale market by reducing access to that market for potential competitors.
The European Commission therefore strongly welcomed ENI’s decision to divest its shares in the three pipelines submitted to the investigation, i.e. TAG, TENP and Transitgas.
According to the Commission, these remedies have the potential to improve access to the Italian gas markets and contribute to an integrated and competitive single European energy market.
If this test of the market is successful, the Commission will take a final decision as to whether it accepts the commitments and makes them legally binding on ENI.