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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 understand that in energy market liberalisation the Commission has mainly relied on article 95 of the treaty establishing the European Community, which deals with competition and markets generally. I understand that it has been using that successfully to help to bring about energy market liberalisation, and that the competition directorate-general has been quite aggressive in that regard. We do not need the new powers in the Lisbon treaty to press forward energy market liberalisation.

We heard in the earlier part of the debate, but it bears repetition, that last September the European Commission launched the third legislative package on electricity and gas markets. Its package headline says that it will

"ensure that all European citizens can take advantage of the numerous benefits provided by a truly competitive energy market."

If the European Commission not only admits but boasts that it is able to achieve the goal of a truly competitive energy market in the EU—a goal that we firmly support—using only the EU's current treaties and powers, it is fatuous for Ministers to claim that this energy article is needed or that opposition to it or to the treaty as a whole shows any lack of support for or seriousness about a single market in energy. If people do not believe me, they should ring not Conservative headquarters but the European Commission and ask it.

Article 176A is a source of concern. In particular, it is not clear to what kind of legislation paragraph 1(b), on ensuring the security of energy supply, will lead. Ministers have not been clear about that either. That was touched on earlier, but again I do not think we achieved absolute clarity.