EU spokesman Ferran Tarradellas Espuny (file photo) (official site)
BRUSSELS, February 22, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The European Commission today brushed off comments by Gazprom Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Medvedev that its plans to break up the EU's energy monopolies are "absurd."
Commission spokesman Ferran Tarradellas Espuny today said the moves to split energy producers from distribution networks are not aimed against Gazprom -- the EU's largest external gas supplier which is also seeking to buy supply grids in the bloc.
"The rules of market separation, the 'unbundling' of production and distribution, would not be directed against outside companies who want to enter the [EU] market," Espuny said.
In an interview carried by a number of major European papers today, Medvedeve said the plans are "the most absurd idea in the history of the world economy."
Medvedev said the move -- which is being discussed among EU governments -- would jeopardize investment.
Espuny today argued, however, that a breakup of energy giants is needed to improve market access for newcomers and generate the funds necessary to renew infrastructure.