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Clause 2 — Addition to list of treaties

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 5:48 pm on 30th January 2008.

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Photo of Mark Francois Mark Francois Shadow Minister (Europe) 5:48 pm, 30th January 2008

I will touch on that shortly. In the earlier debate, Opposition Members repeatedly challenged the Government to justify why they needed new powers to bring about energy market liberalisation when the Commission, which I am about to praise, has been making progress in this area—the competition directorate-general has worked very hard—under the powers available in the existing treaty base. Ministers wriggled and ducked and dived, but they never managed to give a convincing answer to that question, and we will find out whether we hear anything on it in the debate on this amendment. Thus far, they have failed to explain to the House why they need powers on energy in the Lisbon treaty to bring about liberalisation of that market, when the Commission itself believes that it already has sufficient powers, and, indeed, has recently issued new directives in that area.

I also want to say a few words about amendment No. 205, which would strike out the new article on energy. As has already been said, the Government could not in the past have been clearer in their opposition to it. As their reasoned objection at the time succinctly stated,

"this provision is unnecessary as all aspects of energy policy are effectively covered elsewhere in the Treaty" such as under the "single market" and the "environment".

That was the Government's argument.

This is a central fact in the debate. In their own words, the Government have admitted that the treaty adds nothing that we actually need. It brings no benefit at all. The Government were right then and are wrong now, and have yet to explain why they let this article go through in the negotiations, other than because they negotiated poorly. We do not need this to act together on the environment, an area where the European Union has an important role to play. The emissions trading scheme is far from perfect, but it is up and running, and we have not needed this treaty to do that or to reform it.