UK Tory MEPs have welcomed proposals for a European Energy Union, but have called for greater clarity about how new infrastructure will be funded, and the support that will be available for a North Sea Electricity grid to connect neighbouring markets.
And Ian Duncan, the Tory Euro-MP for Scotland said: “Energy is one area where a Europe-wide market makes sense. In Britain we have huge energy resources but difficulty delivering it to our European neighbours.
“My constituency, Scotland, has significant scope for renewable energy, be it wind or pump storage hydro, and it has significant resources of offshore and onshore gas to generate electricity, but without interconnectors both consumers and our energy producers are at a disadvantage.
“At present the only region of Europe ‘shovel ready’ in terms of delivering on the Energy Union commitments is the North Sea. A North Sea grid, able to connect the renewable and conventional energy generation of Scotland and the wider UK directly into the European mainland will be a vital step forward in attaining energy security for the whole continent.”
EU Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič announced that an Energy Union would prioritise the completion of the internal energy market in order for energy to move more freely across the EU, enabling more competition and diversification. That should drive down prices for consumers and businesses and increase the security of our energy supplies.
The Energy Union represents a more concerted attempt to end over-reliance on Russian gas, with the EU currently importing 53% of its energy. The bulk of Russian gas imports to the EU pass through Ukraine, and the recent unrest in the region has raised concerns that Russia could once again turn off supplies to Europe, as it did in 2009.
Duncan – who previously worked as an analyst for BP – is also the Energy Spokesman for British Conservatives in the European Parliament.
He added: “I was therefore disappointed that the Commissioner failed to mention the North Sea Grid in his remarks. This is all the more concerning given the fact that his predecessor cut the funds available for such interconnectivity.
“The cost of completing the grid, according to the Commission, is in the region of €300 billion. If we want to get this important initiative moving forward we will need more than vague predictions. We need a concerted effort to raise the finance to get the projects and grid up and running.
“An Energy Union has the potential to lower prices and create jobs. It will make a difference the length and breadth of the UK, but we must get it right, and get it right now.”
Rhian Kelly, the CBI’s Business Environment Director, commented: “The proposed European Energy Union recognises that the more effective way to tackle our shared energy and climate change challenges is for EU member states to work together.
“An effective Union must support openness, competition and investment, putting the needs of business and consumers at its heart. Importantly, it should support member states’ determination and development of their own energy mix.
“Greater interconnection will be key to getting the Energy Union to work, allowing power to flow across the EU and enabling a more efficient and cost-effective market.”