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Top job hopeful Vestager faced questions in Lithuania

Margrethe Vestager [Europe by Satellite]

By Angele Kedaitiene

EU Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has visited Lithuania this week, where she met with Lithuanian Competition Council, participated to the Login conference of innovations and technology and to other events.

In relation to her candidacy for the post of the President of the European Commission, which according to her is important in sense of democratic choice among different candidates, she gave interview to BNS news Lithuania, in which she has emphasised on the responsibility of market giants. According to the European Union is late in establishing the digital single market and has failed to produce the adequate competition to Google or Facebook.

To the question how she would see the further development of the European Union, which is facing huge challenges, in sense of deeper integration or deeper sovereignty, she answered that the main thing is to prove that EU is on the change, and that there are problems which could require deeper integration, and others which could be in the remit of the member states.

Vestager is for digital taxation, because according to her digital companies pay just around 9% of taxes in average

During her term in office, in 2017, Vestager has imposed fines on Lithuanian railways, for destroyed railways between Mazeikiai, city on the North of Lithuania, and Renge in Latvia. She has called this case unprecedented because of the fact of physical destruction of the railways.  Although the Lithuanian railways have a different point of view, they have tried to reach an agreement, rejected by the Commissioner. Today, irrespective of the decision, Lithuanian railways are reconstructing the destroyed railways between Mazekiai and Renge.

Another important question for Lithuania, raised towards the European Commission officially, is about the dominant position of Gazprom on the market, and that despite the Commission probe which lasted for 7 years, Gazprom got away even without any penalty. Vestager replied that instead of imposing a penalty, the Commission made Gazprom accept commitments to change its monopolistic behaviour. The Commission has put Gazprom under observation, and in case the commitments are not met, it could face the penalty.

Furthermore, Vestager was asked about Nord Stream 2, the pipeline having divided the EU, and the USA strongly objecting against it. According to the Commissioner, this is not an EU-supported project, the Union could live without Nord Steam 2 while better using capacities of Nord Stream 1, some other gas supply networks. However, she said, it’s most likely that the project will go on, and in this respect it is important to ensure the transparent legal framework for functioning of Nord Stream 2, including the supervisory legal framework.

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