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The fatal contradiction

The FT looks at the EU's latest interventions in the energy market, wondering where it leaves the idea of nation states having their own energy policies. In particular it points out the possibility of the government's bonkers nuclear deal at Hinckley point being ruled illegal, shale being regulated away to nothing, and exemptions for energy intensive industry being axed.

You can see an interesting (if that's the right word) dilemma appearing here. The environmental bureaucracy in Brussels looks as though it may make fossil fuel use impossible. The single market bit may drive renewables to the wall.

The future's dim. The future's black.

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Reader Comments (23)

Cameron had better win the next General Election, if only to be forced to give us the referendum he promised.

Jan 6, 2014 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

When you allow somebody else to dictate your energy policy, you may as well hand over your currency and armed forces as well. And I used to be quite Europhilic.

Jan 6, 2014 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I get so annoyed with us being in the EU these days. It is so obviously a political project that is not in Britain's interests, or even its own. Why do we inflict this nonsense on ourselves?

Jan 6, 2014 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJon Y

@Joe Public


As has been well documented here and elsewhere, his promise of a referendum on our "relationship" with the European Union is a sham, will be rigged and is not possible. Trying to renegotiate a looser relationship with the EU goes against the very fabric of the organisation.

However there is now a sting in the tail, as noted by Richard North, Cameron has no intention of honouring an out vote in the unlikely event one would occur. In an interview with the Spanish El Pais with the headline quote from Cameron; "The best solution for the UK is to stay in a reformed EU", he was asked the following (via Google translate):

In case of a Yes victory in the referendum that will organize on leaving the EU, would you be willing to withdraw from the Union?

And Cameron's response:

I would not. (No me gustaría)

Jan 6, 2014 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop

Why do we inflict this nonsense on ourselves?

Jan 6, 2014 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered Commenter Jon Y

No WW3 is the aim but the cure could bite big time.

Jan 6, 2014 at 12:36 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Germany presumably has a 'special relationship' with the EU on energy matters, as it gets on with building twenty new coal-fired power stations...

Jan 6, 2014 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Given that we could leave the EU and remain in the single market via EFTA, you have to wonder why David Cameron is desperate for us to remain inside an organisation that is committed to becoming the Country of Europe.

The same goes for Milliband and Clegg. This point never gets raised.

The answer is that they all support the integration project. They know that public opinion is against it at the moment, but they live in hope. Their game is to keep us in the waiting room since leaving the EU would scupper their dream.

Jan 6, 2014 at 12:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

I should have added that destroying the energy market is part of the EU plan. They bring most of the member states to a crisis point then they will be forced to relinquish all sovereignty in this area.

We will have a single energy market, a single generating and distribution policy and central regulation.

The EU uses what it calls a "beneficial crisis" to force member states to give up more powers.

Jan 6, 2014 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

We are governed by idiots (and in equal measure from London & Brussels) and with National Grid reserve capacity down to only 2% in 2014-15, living on borrowed time. As I have said before, it will likely take a blackout in the south-east and the associated riots and deaths before the decision makers come to their senses with regard to the UK's current energy and climate policy madness.

Jan 6, 2014 at 1:09 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Joe Public (12:12 PM): yes, but Cam-moron promised one after the last election – in fact, he gave us a “Cast Iron Guarantee” of one… then he has to honour the results if they go against his personal wishes. Woodentop suggests that perhaps he will not.

The reason why none of the senior politicians want out of Europe is that they see that as the next step in their careers – dump the “meagre” pay of an MP (C.£66k – taxed), and take on the tax-free income of Commisar Commissioner, á la the Neil Kinnock (£150k, the last I heard, and that was a couple of decades ago!), PLUS no-holds-barred-and-no-questions-asked expenses. What’s not to like (if you are a politician)?

Green Sand offered a well-known quotation attributed to Lincoln on the previous post; what wasn’t offered was a dénouement since given by a Canadian:

“All you really need is to fool enough of the people enough of the time.”

Jan 6, 2014 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

@ wooden top

Thanks for that. I shall have to press my MP for confirmation.

Jan 6, 2014 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

This is actually good news because it means energy prices will rocket, together with energy rationing... and the rationing of everything.

Then the dopey people will wake up and do something about the political claque, the Ecoloons and the EU.

Remember we are dealing with a population which thinks that slaugherhouses, aka hospitals are part of a World Class health system that is paid for by the Money Fairy, and a larger mash of which finds intellectual stimulation in watching Celebrity Big Brother.

So it will take extremes to get them up of heir backsides and into the streets.

Jan 6, 2014 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Agenda 21 dictates, Brussels ordains UK energy policy, Westminster facilitates and the administration - quangocracy, the DECC enables it and then gold plates it, then, the big banks and investors grease the wheels of renewable 'technologies' - pocketing billions in the process and the consequence: Britain enters a new dark age.

Don't kid yourself that that LiblabCon even if they desired so to do, they will not and ultimately cannot do anything about it [UK energy policy]- until we leave the EU.

OUT and OUT now is the only solution to this man made crisis.

Jan 6, 2014 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

"We are governed by idiots..."

I disagree because I do not believe that the bureaucrats have the same goals as you might have. The first concern of those in power is power itself, not some abstract 'common good.' In a social democracy the rule of the game is looting because those that are elected to certain positions only have a limited amount of time to ensure that the obtain the means to get rich regardless of what happens to taxpayers or voters. The only solution is to have a very limited government that cannot spend more than 5% of GDP.

Jan 6, 2014 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterVangel

"No me gustaría"

This can mean something like "I would prefer not" / "that's not what I would like," / "that's not what I want."

In other words, politician tiptoeing through domestic political minefield gives evasive answer to foreign newspaper's unhelpful question. What a shock!

Jan 6, 2014 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterHamish McCallum

EFTA is not the solution - you end up having to abide by the EU rules, but have no say in how they are made. Look at what EFTA members have to do to remain part of the "free-trade" area and you will see the point.

Jan 6, 2014 at 3:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob


"The fact is that if Britain leaves the EU it will have far more influence on international trading policies set by organisations such as UNECE than it does as a member of the EU. Britain will not be ‘isolated,’ it will be empowered, freed from memos from the Foreign Office reminding the British negotiating team of EU ‘positions.’

"But of course not one in a thousand of you has heard of UNECE. The Brussels propaganda is that the trading regulations spring from EU decisions, so by being a member of the EU, countries have a seat at the top table.

"Except they don’t: the EU is not the top table. Trading regulations spring from such organisations as the World Trade Organisation, regional bodies such as UNECE (the UN Economic Commission for Europe, which has 56 members including Russia and the US but not the EU) and global bodies such as OIE (the World Organisation for Animal Health, with 178 members but not the EU)."

Mary Ellon Synon

Jan 6, 2014 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Jones

UKIP it is, then.

Jan 6, 2014 at 5:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

David Jones is right.

The EU was important 30 years ago, not now. The UN, WTO, etc manage the trade treaties at a global level. They delegate the detailed trade specifications to agencies like CODEX. The UK is not invited to the negotiations because we are represented by the EU which may be following an agenda that is bad for us.

If we left the EU we would attend the decision making meetings as a sovereign country.

Of course, none of this gets any publicity. All UK governments strive to keep the public as ignorant as possible about the EU on the grounds that we would rise up and slaughter them if we knew what they have been doing by stealth all these years.

Jan 6, 2014 at 6:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

I think there are two possibilities:

1) The EU bureaucrats think that our nuclear plans should be rejected then they will postpone any formal decision until after the next British general election, and if the Conservatives get back in there will be a further postponement until after the promised EU referendum, assuming Cameron keeps his promise. The same applies to any attempt to prevent development of our shale resources.

2) The EU goes ahead with restrictions on our nuclear programme and development of shale gas resources but does it in an implicit, not an explicit way, so it looks as if the British government is responsible for the decisions. The Conservatives will then attempt to deflect criticism by blaming their coalition partners but, in the event of gaining an outright majority at the next general election, will make only cosmetic changes to energy policy

Jan 6, 2014 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Schrodinger's Cat said:

"We will have a single energy market, a single generating and distribution policy and central regulation"

Since we had some short "glitches" on the electricity supply last week I've been monitoring the voltage & frequency with a simple plug-in monitor (which can also measure power used over a period of time). I had forgotten what the allowable upper and lower voltage limits were (at least what they used to be), so investigated. I was somewhat surprised to find that EU "harmonisation" has stuck its nose into this aspect as well. It transpires that the UK originally had a nominal 240 volts AC, and the rest of Europe had 220 volts. Each had permissible tolerances with some overlap in the middle.

Although the Brussels bureaucrats dearly wanted a single uniform supply, even they had to admit that it was technically and practically impossible. So they just fiddled the various limits to cover the entire range from UK maximum down to European minimum. So, in reality, nothing has actually changed, but the EU can claim a further example of "Harmonisation", and the UK suppliers can get away with a significantly lower supply than previously.

Brilliant! - or not, as the case may be...

Jan 6, 2014 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterdave ward

"The EU was important 30 years ago, not now. The UN, WTO, etc manage the trade treaties at a global level. They delegate the detailed trade specifications to agencies like CODEX...."

You don't need treaties and intergovernmental agencies to have free trade. Just open up your borders to goods and services and the UK will develop much cheaper energy sources that will give it a huge advantage over the over-regulated EU and most other jurisdictions. Since consumer goods will be available at much lower prices people will not need to earn as much in order to maintain their standard of living and internal markets will adjust to find the proper level.

Jan 6, 2014 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterVangel

EuRef on The Norway Option:

Jan 6, 2014 at 10:57 PM | Registered CommenterAndy Scrase

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