I was amused to be at a meeting this past week in which my local MP stressed the need for our political priority in the climate change debate to be on energy security, rather than superficial emissions targets, only to be followed by one of our MEPs claiming that a Europe-wide energy network would deliver us the security we need. I can't say that I was at all convinced that such a move would give us any national control over our energy supply, so was interested to pick up the following report from the Bruges Group:
EU to take control over Britain's energy policyThe proposed treaty will give the EU power for the first time over the whole field of energy and Britain’s oil and gas reserves.
The UK’s oil industry produces £5 billion in taxes and has about 265,000 employees. But this could all be threatened by the revived and renamed EU Constitution.
Under the new Article 176a in the Reform Treaty the European Union will take control over energy policy and usage. This will be introduced under Qualified Majority Voting, meaning that Britain will not be able to veto damaging EU laws, nor protect the North Sea reserves.
The implications of this will be enormous. Article 176a reads;
1. In the context of the establishment and functioning of the internal market and with regard for the need to preserve and improve the environment, Union policy on energy shall aim, in a spirit of solidarity between Member States, to:Brussels will also be able to decide issues relating to the taxation of the reserves without Britain’s Parliament having a say.
(a) ensure the functioning of the energy market;
(This will hand Brussels the power to decide, where and how the oil and gas are sold)
(b) ensure security of energy supply in the Union, and
(This could mean that the UK must supply energy to another member-state if they are having problems with their network)
(c) promote energy efficiency and energy saving and the development of new and renewable forms of energy;
(This will make the debate in Britain about how energy is produced irrelevant because Brussels will be making those decisions)
(d) promote the interconnection of energy networks.
(This will give the EU a key role as the system guarantor and thus threatening British control over the North Sea reserves)
EU involvement in this area is especially worrying because the looming and renamed EU Constitution also adds another clause on energy, Article 100(1), which will force Britain to share its reserves in a time of crisis.
After concerns were raised by the oil and gas industry about the implications of Article 100(1) the proposal mentioning energy was removed from the final text of the then EU Constitution. Now, however, by slight-of-hand it has found its way back into the text of the Reform Treaty. In this respect the so-called Reform Treaty will pose more of a threat to Britain’s energy reserves than the original text of the EU Constitution.