Tuesday, 29 March 2016

How EU frames UK energy policy

Letter sent to the Times:

In his Business commentary ("A Rudderless ship," March 29 www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/columnists/article4723325.ece) Robert Lea asserts "the energy secretary (Amber Rudd) appears to forget that our nuclear, wind, solar and marine energy and fracking have nothing to do with Brussels" in her warning that the EU is key to UK energy policy.
Ms Rudd is in fact correct. Tony Blair as Prime Minister signed up the UK to meet an EU-wide target of securing 20 per cent of our energy (not just electricity) from renewable sources by 2020 under the EC renewable energy directive (https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/renewable-energy/renewable-energy-directive).

Additionally, the complex financial  regime supporting the fiendishly opaque taxpayer-supported subsidies for the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear plant is contingent on the decision  (http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/cases/251157/251157_1615983_2292_4.pdf)inDecember 2014 by the European Commission Competition Directorate to allow the massive State Aid financial support for the plant. (C(2014) 7142 final cor)

This barely comprehensible decision - which is a 180 degree reversal of an earlier  provisional decision the Commission announced on 18 December 2013 - which would have disallowed the State Aid subsidy, has been referred to another European Union institution, the European Court of Justice (ECJ), by two fellow EU states, Austria and Luxembourg, backed by a coalition of German renewable energy companies concerned Hinkley will gain an unfair market advantage from such lavish taxpayer-supported and electricity bill-payer subsidies.  
The latest French Government plan to bail out by recapitalization  EDF, the parent company of EDF Energy, the applicant company to build Hinkley C, announced by French finance minister, Emmanuel Macron, in the French Parliament  ("Macron assure que l'Etat est prêt à recapitaliser EDF," Le Parisien 17 March http://www.leparisien.fr/economie/macron-hue-par-des-salaries-d-edf-a-la-centrale-nucleaire-de-civaux-17-03-2016-5634931.php#xtref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.energyfair.org.uk%2Fnews-1;) amounts to yet another subsidy which will be challenged in the ECJ.

As Mr Lea himself asked in an article on nuclear funding last week "there is a question of whether this breaches European state-aid rules." ("Row over Hinkley Point is about to go nuclear,"  March 23, www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/industries/utilities/article4719381.ece)

So the EU  has, and does,  play a very large role in framing UK energy policy.

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