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I would never seek to do such a thing, either implicitly or explicitly, in the hon. Gentleman's presence. It is clear that nothing in the treaty affects the allocation of energy reserves or stocks. The new article does, however, strike the right balance in preserving the rights of member states. The Opposition have said that they support the principle of EU co-operation on energy, but removing all EU competence over energy, as amendment No. 33 would, would prevent the UK from giving effect to any agreement we reach with EU partners.
The right hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden talked about the inclusion in a legally binding protocol of undistorted competition. President Sarkozy has acknowledged that that is symbolic rather than substance and— [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Rayleigh might scoff at President Sarkozy; that is his business, not mine. I do not know whether he would also scoff at the Law Society's guide to the Lisbon treaty, published only yesterday, which states of the protocol on competition:
"This does not change the current legal position."
That is made clear by no less a body than the Law Society—of the United Kingdom, not of France.
Mr. Evans asked why we could not be just like Norway or Switzerland—and, if he was to complete the list, like Liechtenstein, which is the third great nation in that triumvirate. Norway is not in the EU; some Opposition Members realise that, and it is what they celebrate about the country. However, it still has to apply all EU energy acquis in full. So if we were to follow the hon. Gentleman's suggestion of being like Norway, we would have—lock, stock and barrel—every EU energy policy, but with no influence over or say in the policy.
Opposition Members have sought to criticise the principle of solidarity. That principle was first established in article 2 of the Maastricht treaty.
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