EU laws force the closing of power plants in the UK, reducing capacity and increasing the risk of power cuts.
Cooperation with neighbours on energy is obviously a good thing. Unfortunately, in this field as in others the EU’s focus is not improving cooperation but increasing the grip of EU institutions over national laws. EU rules are damaging consumers and businesses. As in other fields, the UK is constantly outvoted and overruled by the European Court so there is nothing we can do to escape damaging rules that cost us a fortune.
Britain has long been effective at producing its own energy and finding stable, reliable partners to work with and has also been a world leader in decarbonisation. The EU, by contrast, has created problems for energy security, tied our hands on decarbonisation, and risks making us more dependent on Putin’s Russia.
If we vote ‘remain’, Brussels and the European Court will take more and more power from Britain over energy which will lead to higher prices, higher taxes, less capacity, and higher risks. It is safer to take back control.
Being in the EU means we have to accept all EU regulation - even the laws that are creating problems for our energy sector. Brussels is using the Lisbon Treaty to take control of many of the laws that govern how we produce energy and how much we pay for it. The Large Combustion Plant Directive is forcing the closure of coal-fired power stations, increasing the risk of blackouts. Even the pro-EU Government admits that power plants have had to close to comply with EU laws causing a significant loss of capacity.
On top of this, EU state aid rules have delayed the construction of the Hinkley Point power station and the scheme is currently the subject of legal challenge in the European Court by Austria. There is as yet no date for a hearing and no way of knowing what the European Court will decide. British politicians, not EU judges, should be in control of where and when we build power stations.
These problems will get worse. The EU has already revealed that it has plans for many more energy rules. In February 2016, the EU announced legislative proposals for compulsory sharing of gas between member states. This could mean that a gas crisis in the EU could lead to gas rationing in UK.
Because of silly EU rules, Europe now has some of the most expensive electricity and gas prices in the developed world. Research has shown that EU energy regulation will cost the UK economy about £90 billion. This creates real problems for families, businesses and the public sector. Instead of spending money on patients, the NHS has to instead spend millions every year on energy costs.
EU rules have pushed energy prices up for Britain while prices have fallen elsewhere in the world. The European Commission has revealed that 'natural gas prices for industry, including taxes… were, on average, 241% higher in [EU members] than in the US'.
The European Commission has admitted that medium sized companies in the EU pay about 20% more for their electricity than companies in China and about 65% more than companies in India. According to the former European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso, between 2005 and 2012, the gas price for European industry increased by 35 per cent and the electricity price increased by 38 per cent. In the US, by contrast, gas prices fell by 66 per cent and electricity prices fell by 4 per cent. End-user gas prices are now nearly twice as high in the UK than in the US.
This harms businesses. According to the CEO of ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaking company, ‘the huge cost gap [between Europe and the US] is threatening Europe’s energy intensive industries’. Many large manufacturing firms are now packing up and heading to America leaving hundreds unemployed. This problem has also contributed to the disaster of Tata steel, threatening thousands of high quality jobs. EU rules forcing up the price of energy have a devestating impact on employment.
Because of EU failure, families are not only having to spend much more on their energy bills but also have to pay higher taxes on energy bills. The EU forces the UK Government to charge at least 5% on energy bills. This has a serious impact on low income families.
Despite claiming to believe in increased energy efficiency, the European Court is forcing the UK to quadruple the tax on installing energy saving materials, such as solar panels and wind turbines. This is in direct breach of a promise the Prime Minister made to the country just a week before the election, but there is nothing he can do to stop the EU increasing the cost of cutting your energy bill. This not only costs us money - it shows how EU membership undermines the core of democratic legitimacy as Governments are not allowed by the EU to fulfil promises they’ve made to voters.
The EU has also taken control of the household appliances your family can use. It has banned high-powered vacuum cleaners. Brussels also plans to outlaw British toasters and kettles but has delayed this until after the referendum to evade scrutiny from the British public. If we vote ‘remain’, unelected bureaucrats will continue to decide which household appliances we can use.
These problems are only going to get worse if we stay in the EU. The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies has warned that ‘the cost of Europe’s clean energy policies has also risen, and will rise further, as a result of the Commission’s proposals’. Even the European Commission has admitted that 'European Energy Intensive Industries... must decide whether to invest in Europe or abroad, in countries with much more promising market dynamics'.
The EU’s policies won’t solve anything. Brussels has said it wants to create an ‘energy union’, which means a lot more regulation and higher costs. This will be a nightmare for Britain. The EU energy grid is dependent on Russia. Becoming more dependent on the EU’s energy grid involves passing control of our energy security over to President Putin. We will be safer if we take back control of how we produce our own energy.
While the US is set to shift from being dependent on gas imports to a net gas exporter over the next twenty years, the EU is set to become one of the most energy dependent blocs in the world. With Russia providing much of Europe’s energy supply, this raises serious questions about Europe’s long term energy security.
The UK is connected to several countries via large interconnector pipelines - these are a good thing for both the UK and for the countries who link up to us, including Norway and EU member states. These are commercial vehicles, and will not be closed if Britain decides to Vote Leave (Germany has just agreed to establish a new interconnector with Norway - which is not in the EU).
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The EU-funded Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE) campaign claims that the EU will bring down energy prices. This has no basis in fact. The EU has admitted that ‘energy costs [are] to rise in all scenarios’.
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