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Clause 2 — Addition to list of treaties

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 30th January 2008.

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Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee 6:00 pm, 30th January 2008

I wish to make a few points about the importance of an EU-co-ordinated European energy approach. The realities of the coming decades will be such that energy will be one of the most important issues in international relations. It will be a global geopolitical issue.

I referred in my intervention a moment ago to the Foreign Affairs Committee's report on global security and Russia, which is relevant to this debate. In that report, we highlighted the fact that for many years to come, Russia will be dependent on European Union markets for its gas and oil. Russia will need to export that energy, and it will not be able to diversify sufficiently quickly in terms of exports to China and other parts of the world. Russia will depend on the currency that it will get from its sales to the European market.

At the same time, European member states have had different approaches to energy supply. We had the controversy over the pipeline to Germany under the Baltic sea, which caused great difficulties in the relations between the German Government and the Poles and Lithuanians. Another issue is the supply of gas from southern Europe. For all those reasons, the amendments do not take account of the realities that the European Union confronts. I am therefore not in favour of the amendments and I hope that we will support the treaty as it stands. It will take us forward to a more coherent and co-ordinated approach, both in the internal market of the European Union and, more importantly, to the issues of diversification and energy security in relation to the major energy producers in the world. That does not just mean Russia; it includes how we deal with north Africa, the Gulf and the countries in the Caspian area, which are all potential sources of energy supply for the EU. The UK is rather more advantaged than some countries: we have a long-term relationship with Norway, liquefied natural gas from Qatar is coming on stream, and we will have other sources of supply. Those in central and eastern Europe are more dependent on gas and oil from Russia.

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