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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 Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 6:00 pm, 30th January 2008

That is not for me to answer. The hon. Gentleman should ask the Minister. [Interruption.] I have no idea why the Government would change their position on any measure. It is up to them to answer that.

The WWF, the Green Alliance and the Institute for European Environmental Policy called the changes in article 176 "momentous", not because it establishes the list of shared competences, but because it

"will empower the institutions to adopt Directives and Regulations not only for the sake of the internal energy market, but also to ensure security of supply and"— this is key for those organisations—

"to promote energy efficiency and energy saving and the development of new and renewable forms of energy."

Those groups are clarifying the fact that it is the policy direction contained in the treaty which is significant. It is important to identify energy as a shared competence. No great new powers are being conferred; there is just a new and clearer direction. WWF and the others are worried that the red lines that the Government have negotiated have conceded too much. Their statement goes on to say that the new energy article

"shall not affect a Member State's right to determine the conditions for exploiting its energy resources, its choice between different energy sources and the general structure of its energy supply...This limits the scope for ambitious EU initiatives on energy policy, including those with environmental goals...many measures that would be relevant from a sustainable development perspective are bound to affect the choice between different sources of energy; in fact that is their very purpose."

Conservative Members were worried about removing descriptions of unrestricted competition, but in one sense Stern has told us to intervene in the market and influence it in a way that helps the planet and the future economy, so that proposal is not surprising.

I support the red lines. They are important provisions and should remain, but the environmental organisations' concerns illustrate how far from reality the position of Conservative Front Benchers is, and how unnecessary the amendments are.