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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU Says Plan is Not Aimed at Gazprom

European Union plans to limit foreign ownership of energy pipelines and power grids are not anti-Russian, because Moscow is welcome to invest in generating and supply assets, EU Ambassador Marc Franco said.

Russian businessmen and legislators reacted sharply to the EU proposals after they were unveiled last week, accusing Brussels of "state protectionism" and promising retaliatory measures.

"The EU energy proposals aim first and foremost at strengthening the EU energy market and have been misinterpreted as an anti-Gazprom measure," Franco said in an interview. "Politicians and commentators need to read the text. As far as foreign investment in the energy sector is concerned, the text is very welcoming and open."

Franco said the proposed EU limits on foreign ownership only applied to transmission networks and not to energy production or supply assets, which were completely open to foreign investors.

Russia, he added, had never allowed foreign participation in its own transmission networks, such as Transneft or the electricity grid. "We cannot understand what the fuss is about. No country would allow foreign investors to control its energy transport systems," Franco said.

"Would Russia allow foreign companies to control Transneft? The electricity grid? The Gazprom pipelines?"

Russia has not yet formally reacted to the EU proposals, but the State Duma is currently considering a law to limit foreign investment in strategic sectors of the economy.