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Gov't confirms EC “pilot” letter, vows fight on price cuts

EU

Hungary has received a letter from Brussels concerning a reduction in utilities prices, government spokesman András Giró-Szász said on Wednesday. “The letter confirms the government’s earlier assumption that we must count on further measures attacking the utilities price cut by Brussels and market players,” he said.

The Hungarian government will “pick up the gauntlet” and defend the price reduction, Giró-Szász promised.

The two-step price reduction will save Hungarian households a combined 20% on their utilities bills this year.

Reports on Tuesday in the Hungarian dailies Népszabadság and Magyar Nemzet, citing the website BruxInfo, suggested the European Commission was seeking information from the government on the utilities price cuts.

BruxInfo said on its website on Monday that the EC had asked Hungary in a letter to respond to questions regarding energy market regulation.

Brussels is seeking information in a “pilot” procedure on possible discriminatory pricing mechanisms used to calculate gas network fees for households and for businesses, BruxInfo said, citing sources familiar with the matter. At present, the fee for households and public institutions is less than the fee paid by businesses.

Brussels’ inquiry into the matter is not related directly to the government-mandated cut in households utilities prices this year, BruxInfo reported.

National Development Ministry State Secretary János Fónagy said on public television early Wednesday that the EC had raised objections to the energy network fees in Hungary already in August. He told M1 that the EC’s experts had expressed the criticism in the form of questions against the technical background of the utilities price cuts. He said the EU’s problem was not with the utilities price cuts, adding that the phrase was included nowhere in the letter.

Fónagy said multinationals were behind the attacks.

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