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Clause 2 — Addition to list of treaties

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 30th January 2008.

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Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell Second Church Estates Commissioner 6:15 pm, 30th January 2008

That is the essence of the interconnector. When my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South spoke of a common energy policy, Mr. Evans intervened to ask whether that would result in a united states of Europe. The essence of EU energy policy is that it is up to each member state to go its own way within a supranational EU framework.

I return to article 176A. It has been quoted many times today, but I make no apologies for repeating it:

"Such measures"— that is, those in article 176A—

"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".

I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South, that nuclear energy, which we debated earlier, was deliberately not included in the European Commission's proposals, because it is up to each member state to decide for itself what it wishes to do on that issue. The point was made that France relies on it a lot and Austria not at all, and that Poland relies on coal. That is the diversity of the European Union; one of the themes of the EU is unity in diversity. We accept diversity and welcome it, and we allow each of the 27 member states to breathe and develop under a supranational umbrella.

Amendment No. 204 relates to article 2C, and would remove the phrase relating to energy. As Martin Horwood said, it is one of the Opposition's wrecking amendments. Let us look at article 2C; what is it that the Opposition dislike about shared competence? Do they dislike the internal market, which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South rightly pointed out, Lady Thatcher gave us in 1986? Are they opposed to social policy? Are they opposed to economic, social and territorial cohesion? Are they opposed to agriculture and fisheries, excluding the conservation of marine biological resources, or the environment? Are they against consumer protection, transport, trans-European networks, the area of freedom, security and justice or common safety concerns in public health matters? All of those are defined in the treaty. Why on earth would one want to remove energy? Do we wish to cut ourselves off from the rest of the world? Do we wish there to be no electricity or petrol for our cars in 10 to 15 years' time? What is it that we are trying to achieve?