Dhe EU Commission has approved the German government’s takeover of the energy companies Uniper and Sefe (formerly Gazprom Germania) from an antitrust perspective. The nationalizations give “no reason for competition law concerns,” said the Brussels authority on Friday. However, an examination procedure under the rules for state aid has not yet been completed, added a Commission spokeswoman.
In the future, the Federal Ministry of Finance will be responsible for Uniper and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs for Sefe. Both companies have run into difficulties as a result of the ongoing European energy crisis and in particular because of the cessation of Russian gas supplies and the sharp rise in gas prices, the commission said. The federal ministries are “currently not active in the same markets or in vertically linked markets” as the companies. There is therefore no problem under antitrust law.
“In relation to the state aid, I can only say that we are currently in contact with the German authorities,” said the spokeswoman. “I cannot comment on these contacts nor predict their outcome or timing.”
Uniper got most of its gas from Russia and now has to supply its customers with much more expensive substitutes. State aid worth billions was not enough. The federal government finally decided to nationalize Uniper. On Monday, the shareholders are to vote on the rescue plan at an extraordinary general meeting.
Gazprom Germania was a subsidiary of the Russian Gazprom Group. The federal government put the company under trusteeship of the Federal Network Agency in April. The name was then changed to Securing Energy for Europe (Sefe). In November, the Federal Ministry of Economics announced the nationalization in order to prevent the impending insolvency.
In both cases, the federal government had argued that the companies were of central importance for the energy supply in Germany.
Note: It was not clear from a previous version of this notification that the state aid rules assessment is still ongoing. We have updated this.