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Tories will fight Brussels power grab on energy

Wednesday, 7th September 2011

Under new rules proposed today (Weds) by German Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger, European governments negotiating energy agreements with non-EU states would have to submit them to Brussels for approval by the Commission.

EU officials are also demanding the right to sit in on negotiations.

Roger Helmer, MEP for the East Midlands, condemned the proposal as "the worst kind of meddling."

He said: "Our energy arrangements are Britain's own business, not the Commission's. This is an attempt to control and interfere with our individual trading interests on a new and deeply worrying scale. The Commission is up to its old empire-building tricks.

"The proposals pose all sorts of worrying questions about business confidentiality, commercial sensitivity and the fairness of any bidding process."

"Russia is the EU's biggest source of gas and several European states including UK are already poised to compete for oil partnerships in the new Libya. The Oettinger scheme could also restrict British exports as a tenth of domestic oil production is currently exported outside the EU. And what about Nordstream?"

Mr Oettinger's proposal insisted the sweeping new powers were needed to ensure deals complied with EU law, especially as energy shortage became a pressure on governments to accept regulatory concessions.

But Mr Helmer said: "It is the worst kind of meddling by the commission's control freaks. Given the depth of the eurozone's currency crisis, you would have thought the commission would have had other priorities. But Mr Oettinger is fiddling while the euro burns.

"This is on a par with the proposal from his predecessor in the Prodi commission to intervene on oil stocks. We managed a majority in the parliament to reject that draft directive as a solution to a problem that didnīt exist. I hope we wonīt have to do it all over again."