Answer given by Mr Piebalgs on behalf of the Commission
1. The Commission does not subscribe to the view that prices of liquid fuels are set universally across Europe by Platts, nor by any other single entity, although it is clear that information from Platts and similar data services play a key role. However, as is correctly stated in the question, Platts does not claim to be a trading platform, it describes itself as an information service provider, offering inter alia, price quotes and price assessments. Platts and similar service entreprises establish their quotes and assessments on the basis of information obtained from traders as well as other market participants. These prices (additional to other market information) may be taken up by market participants as reference values when they seek to price their individual contractual obligations.
2. In general, traders are interested in high trading volumes to minimise their unit transaction costs. High trading volumes are only possible in markets which attract the necessary liquidity. Liquidity flows preferentially to markets perceived as transparent, such as markets where the level of disclosure on individual transactions and/or aggregate values are high, and where market participants value the information provided (i.e. the market must be sufficiently accurate and reliable in reflecting true price information). This provides a ‘reality check’ of the reliability of services provided by Platts and similar entities.
3. It should be recalled that prices used in actual contracts are results of voluntary agreements between actual buyers and sellers, even if they use Platts' or similar reference values as benchmarks. Pricing of contracts using Platts' or similar quotes is not an obligation for traders but a choice. The use of price benchmarks also brings other benefits, such as a certain level of standardisation of contracts, which increases their fungibility and thus market depth.