BRUSSELS, March 20 Italian Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi defended Eni (ENI.MI) on Friday after the European
Commission warned the oil company over alleged restrictive
practices on pipelines.
"We have already responded that the matter is an issue of
national security, Berlusconi told a news conference in
Brussels, where he is attending a European Union summit.
"We can't make concessions," Berlusconi said, "there are
requirements that are more important than the rules, in
particular (the requirement) of national security."
The Commission has been probing alleged restrictive
practices by Eni on the TAG, Transitgas and TENP gas import
pipelines since 2007. It has sent preliminary charges to Eni, a
Commission spokesman said on Thursday.
ENI said it had received a statement of objections from the
Commission, the European Union's executive arm, saying that from
2000 to 2005 it limited access by third parties to the
If the alleged violations are confirmed, the Commission
intends to impose structural remedies involving the sale of all
of Eni's interests in ownership and capacity rights on the three
pipelines "together with a monetary sanction", Eni said in
Such a forced sale would expose Italy and the European Union
to a deterioration of gas supply security, Eni said, referring
to the dispute between Russia and Ukraine that disrupted
European gas supplies this winter.
(Reporting by Paolo Biondi; writing by Gavin Jones; editing by