Energy Security

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 2 March 2010.

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Photo of Nia Griffith Nia Griffith Labour, Llanelli 2:30, 2 March 2010

What recent discussions he has had in the General Affairs Council on measures to improve UK energy security.

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Europe)

There have been regular discussions of energy security at a wide range of Council meetings, both formally and informally. We wholeheartedly support a robust united European position on energy security and a liberalised energy market.

Photo of Nia Griffith Nia Griffith Labour, Llanelli

Has my hon. Friend given any thought to having discussions with his European counterparts about the development of a European super-grid, which would enable us to transfer excess energy from one country to another and thus to make better use of renewables and to use less carbon-producing fuels?

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Europe)

My hon. Friend has laid out all the key issues that we need to address in bringing forward a united position on energy security throughout Europe. The third internal market package, which was brought together last year, lays out a series of ways in which different regulatory authorities can co-operate and ensures that there is some funding available to enable greater transfer of energy supplies from one country to another, and that will help, but in the end we must have a wholly liberalised energy market in the European Union, so that it is not rigged in its relationship to countries such as Russia.

Photo of Robert Smith Robert Smith Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, Opposition Whip (Commons)

Is there not concern that we have paid a high price for being the first to liberalise, while the rest of Europe has not liberalised? It is important to have a level playing field. Given that Ofgem's Project Discovery report is beginning to suggest that we need to row back from the completely open market in this country, where are we in trying to equalise the playing field between the UK and the rest of Europe ?

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Europe)

We need to ensure that there is a level playing field so that British people can own energy companies in Germany, Spain and France, just as people from those countries can own energy countries in the UK. The hon. Gentleman is right that we need to ensure that the most vulnerable members of society are fully protected throughout the EU, especially in parts that sometimes have much more dramatic energy needs than we do, particularly in winter. The third internal market package makes specific provision for that.