• Gazprom's Medvedev to meet EU's Vestager in December
  • Gas giant may face fines if settlement talks break down

Gazprom PJSC is seeking a make-or-break meeting with the European Union’s antitrust chief next month in attempt to settle a case against the Russian state-run company, which supplies about 30 percent of Europe’s natural gas.

Gazprom Deputy Chief Executive Officer Alexander Medvedev plans to meet Margrethe Vestager in Brussels in December, the company’s spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said by phone on Saturday without elaborating. The talks were set ahead of a Dec. 15 hearing on EU accusations of Gazprom’s unfair pricing and marketing policies in eastern Europe, Reuters reported Friday, citing unidentified people familiar with the issue.

Russia, reliant on energy for almost half of its budget earnings, is struggling with its first recession in six years amid a commodities price slump and sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine. Its government has been trying to end its international isolation by forging an alliance with the U.S. and EU to counter Islamic State in Syria.

Gazprom proposed options for an antitrust settlement in September while refusing to admit any guilt, Medvedev said at the time. “We would very much like these issues not to be politicized,” he said.

The offer kick-started discussions at a technical level in October and November between Gazprom and EU officials. Companies can avert possible penalties by offering commitments that remove the bloc’s competition concerns.

Vestager said earlier this month it was too soon to say whether Gazprom’s remedies would solve the issue. While weaker oil has sent Gazprom’s gas prices in Europe, mostly linked to crude, to the lowest level in more than a decade, that doesn’t change the EU’s case because one of the questions is the way gas is priced, according to the EU’s antitrust commissioner.

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