Brussels, 31 March 2022
On 29 March 2022, the European Commission carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several companies in Germany active in the supply, transmission and storage of natural gas.
The Commission has concerns that the inspected companies may have violated EU competition rules that prohibit abuse of a dominant position (Article 102Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).
The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the German national competition authority.
Unannounced inspections are a preliminary investigatory step into suspected anticompetitive practices. The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.
The Commission fully respects the rights of defence in its antitrust proceedings, in particular the right of companies to be heard.
The inspections have been conducted in compliance with all coronavirus health and safety protocols to ensure the security of those involved.
There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anticompetitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned cooperate with the Commission and the scope of the exercise of the rights of defence.