Berlin puts the German subsidiary of Gazprom under guardianship

Quite a symbol. Gazprom Germania, the German subsidiary of Russian gas giant Gazprom, will temporarily come under state control, German Economy Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) announced on Monday, April 4. Specifically, the management of the company will be the responsibility of the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), the administrative authority responsible for regulating the gas, electricity, telecommunications and railway sectors, Mr. Habeck specified, justifying is placed under guardianship -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 major gas storage and transportation facilities in Germany and other European countries, such as the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, Gazprom announced on 1is April that it had withdrawn its assets from its subsidiary. By deciding three days later to take control of it, the German government wanted to prevent it from falling into hostile hands, or even being liquidated altogether.

In Berlin, the concerns were real. In a press release published on Monday afternoon, the German Ministry of Economics announced ” I have learned “ that Gazprom had decided to sell its subsidiary to two Russian companies – JSC Palmary and Gazprom Export Business Services LLC –, ” no [il] it is not clear who is behind and whose intention was to carry out his « liquidation ». To avoid such an outcome, the German government refused to give the green light for the company’s sale, citing a law that stipulates that its agreement is necessary for any acquisition of“critical infrastructure” by investors outside the European Union (EU).

Ambivalences and contradictions

However, the formulation of this legal argument should not make us lose sight of the eminently political dimension of such a decision. By taking control of Gazprom Germania, the German government is responding to those who accuse it of lacking firmness towards Russia in the interests of preserving its economic interests. From this point of view, the announcement by the Economy Minister that the German subsidiary of Gazprom would be placed under supervision, made public on Monday afternoon, timely counterbalanced the statements made by his colleague in charge of finance, the liberal Christian Lindner, who earlier said from Luxembourg ahead of a meeting with his EU counterparts that Germany was not ready to do without Russian gas. ” short term “explaining that such resignation « [lui] would hurt more than Russia ».

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