(CN) – The European Commission opened formal antitrust proceedings Wednesday against German railway Deutsche Bahn based on complaints of anticompetitive electricity pricing.
The formal proceedings are the next step after commission confirmed in 2011 that it was investigating Deutsche Bahn facilities.
Opponents say that Deutsche Bahn unfairly benefits from the control that its subsidiary has over traction current, a specific type of electricity used by trains on the entire rail network in Germany.
DB Energie GmbH, the subsidiary, is the sole supplier of traction current and may give its parent company discounts that make traction current more expensive for competitors.
The commission said it will investigate whether Deutsche Bahn and its subsidiaries breach EU antitrust laws by using their dominant market position to receive such discounts.
Announcement of the formal investigation relieves local and national regulators of their responsibility in the matter, and requires that national courts avoid rendering decisions that might conflict with the commission’s investigation or potential decision.
The commission said there is no legal deadline to complete the investigation. Conclusion depends on “the extent to which [Deutsche Bahn] cooperates with the commission and the exercise of the rights of defense,” the commission said in a statement.