PN250706B

Embargo: Immediate Tuesday 25th July 2006

Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659

LORDS TELLS COMMISSION THERE IS NO NEED FOR IT TO HAVE MORE POWERS ON ENERGY POLICY

The House of Lords European Union Committee has today issued its response to the European Commission's Green Paper, A European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy which calls for a common European approach to energy policy.

The Committee praise the Commission for making clear that energy policy involves a wide range of issues and for seeking to move the debate beyond the limited agenda of energy supply, important though that is. But they argue that the Green Paper does not recognise sufficiently clearly the potential conflicts between different objectives.

They welcome the emphasis on issues such as energy efficiency, climate change and the development of a Strategic Energy Technology Plan and recommend that the European Commission adopt a more robust and longer term approach to the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.

They argue that the Commission's focus should also be on its existing remit of ensuring that national energy markets across Europe are properly liberalised and competitive. The Committee also agree that it is important for the EU to have a more coherent voice in energy related discussions with key oil and gas producing countries as well as large users of global energy resources such as the USA, China and India.

However the Committee question some proposals the Commission put forward and have grave doubts about the direction the Green Paper seeks to take European energy policy in some areas.

The Committee raise concerns about the danger of a 'one size fits all' European energy policy. The varied and diverse nature of energy markets within the EU means that energy policy should remain largely a matter for individual Member States. There is no need for a radical review of powers at EU and Member State levels and the Commission should provide a stronger case by case argument if they believe otherwise.

They dismiss calls for a European-wide energy regulator and call on each Member State to ensure that strong and independent national energy regulators are put in place speedily. They also reject a suggestion that that the Commission should set levels of stored gas reserves to be held by each Member State.

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • The Commission should make clear that markets, not governments are the best placed to deliver energy objectives in an efficient and effective manner.

  • Delivering a stable framework to encourage innovation and long-term capital investment is crucial. Political intervention should be cautious, infrequent and long-lasting.

Commenting on the report, Lord Woolmer of Leeds, Chairman of the Internal Market Committee which conducted the inquiry, said:

"We feel it is important that the energy debate is widened beyond the limited scope of security of supply, which tends to dominate people's thinking in the short term. We feel strongly that the Commission has an important role to play in achieving this and developing a Europe wide approach to issues such as combating climate change, energy efficiency and dialogue between countries supplying oil and gas to Europe.

"However most energy policy is best decided at the national level. The energy markets across European countries differ greatly and it should be up to individual governments to decide what approach to energy best suits their needs.

"The most important steps the Commission should take in regards to energy policy are to work hard to ensure all Member States have liberalised, competitive energy markets with strong national regulators operating independently of government. This should ensure consumers get the best value from their energy suppliers."

Notes to Editors

1. The report is published by The Stationery Office, Inquiry into The European Commission's Green Paper "A European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy", House of Lords European Union Committee, 41st report of Session 2005/06, HL Paper 224, ISBN 010 400926 8, Price £17.50

2. The full report will be available shortly after publication at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldeucom.htm

3. The members of the Committee who conducted the inquiry were:

Lord Woolmer of Leeds (Chairman) Lord Haskel

Baroness Eccles of Moulton

Lord Fearn

Lord Fyfe of Fairfield

Lord Geddes

Lord Haskel

Lord Roper

Lord St John of Bletso

Lord Swinfen

Lord Walpole

4. For copies of the report or to request and interview with Lord Woolmer please contact Owen Williams (Committee Press Officer) on 020 7218 8659.

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