Berlin establishes the German subsidiary of Gazprom. under guardianship

A view of the headquarters of the German subsidiary of Russian gas giant Gazprom Germania in Berlin, March 17, 2014.

Quite a symbol. Gazprom Germania, the German subsidiary of Russian gas giant Gazprom, is temporarily under state control, German Economic Affairs Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) announced on Monday, April 4. Specifically, the management of the company will be entrusted to the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), the administrative body responsible for regulating the gas, electricity, telecommunications and railway sectors, according to Mr. Habeck, who has placed this in receivership – registered until September 30: “The government is doing what is necessary to ensure security of supply in Germany, and this means in particular not exposing energy infrastructures to arbitrary decisions by the Kremlin. †

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Sole shareholder of Gazprom Germania, which operates large gas storage and transportation facilities in Germany and other European countries such as the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, Gazprom announced on 1er April that he had withdrawn his assets from his subsidiary. By deciding to take it three days later, the German government wanted to prevent it from falling into enemy hands or even being completely liquidated.

In Berlin, the concerns were real. In a press release published Monday afternoon, the German Ministry of Economic Affairs announced: ” have learned “ that Gazprom had decided to sell its subsidiary to two Russian companies – JSC Palmary and Gazprom Export Business Services LLC –, ” of which [il] not clear who is behind it » and whose purpose it was to be “liquidation”† To avoid such a result, the German government therefore refused to give the green light to the sale of the company, relying on a law stating that its consent is necessary for any acquisition of“critical infrastructure” by investors outside the European Union (EU).

Ambivalences and contradictions

However, putting forward this legal argument should not lead us to lose sight of the pre-eminently political dimension of such a decision. By taking control of Gazprom Germania, the German government is responding to those who accuse it of lack of determination towards Russia for the sake of preserving its economic interests. From this point of view, the announcement by the Minister of Economy that the German subsidiary of Gazprom would be placed under surveillance, which would be made public on Monday afternoon, counterbalanced the comments of his colleague in charge of finance, the liberal Christian Lindner. , who said earlier in the day from Luxembourg ahead of a meeting with his EU counterparts that Germany was not ready to run without Russian gas ” short-term “explaining that such renunciation [lui] would harm more than Russia

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