A House of Lords committee has launched a new inquiry into the implications of Brexit for the UK’s energy security. The cross-party EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee’s probe will examine the issues that the government will need to consider as the UK embarks on disentangling itself from its close energy relationship with the EU. Amongst the issues under the committee’s microscope are: How the Single Energy Market on the island of Ireland can be maintained; The implications of withdrawing from the Euratom Treaty; The UK’s approach to funding energy infrastructure investment and energy research post-Brexit; What the UK can learn from other non-EU countries’ experience of trading energy with the EU. Announcing the inquiry, the committee said UK and the EU have common energy needs, and rely on common rules and an energy market to help ensure a secure energy supply.
Utility Week 11th July 2017 read more »
The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee launches an inquiry into the implications of Brexit for energy security in the UK. This short inquiry seeks to highlight the issues the Government needs to consider when developing a new energy relationship with the EU to ensure secure, affordable and sustainable energy.
House of Lords 11th July 2017 read more »
There are reports that MPs will insist on the UK government reversing its intention to leave Euratom, the pan-European nuclear regulator. If so, this creates a fascinating legal and political problem. How would the UK government go about pulling back from leaving Euratom? For the reasons set out below, I cannot see how the UK can do this without either revoking or amending the Article 50 notification sent in March, and even that route may not be possible. The overall position is peculiar but many EU lawyers would say Euratom is part of the EU, so if a member state leaves one then it leaves both. No countries are members of the EU and not of Euratom (in contrast to, say, non-EU members Norway being in the single market and Turkey in part being in the customs union). So when the UK sent its Article 50 letter in March, there was a view that leaving Euratom was a necessary implication of leaving the EU. But the notification put the matter beyond any doubt: the third paragraph of the letter, in the sort of legalistic language that no normal person uses by accident, provided: ” In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community. References in this letter to the European Union should therefore be taken to include a reference to the European Atomic Energy Community.” Parliament can vote as much as it likes against parts of Brexit, but it is too late. The bag, the lamp, the coop and the stable are now all empty. The country lost control of the process the moment it made the Article 50 notification (which was cheered on by a sizable majority of MPs). The EU may not not even notice, still less care, what hesitant MPs now think and fear. The UK is on course for getting the Brexit the EU decides it will have.
FT 11th July 2017 read more »
The government is under pressure to reverse its position on Britain’s nuclear future. Ministers say that the UK must leave Euratom, Europe’s nuclear energy community, as its rules are applied by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). This is against common sense. There are great benefits to staying in Euratom, and few costs. Euratom co-operation agreements give Britain access to 71 per cent of the world’s uranium production. It is thanks to Euratom that fuel comes into the country and waste goes out. The UK does not have reactors to produce medical isotopes for the NHS to diagnose and treat diseases. However, as part of Euratom it can rely on a continuous supply. Through Euratom membership and with the benefit of Euratom funds, Britain is at the forefront of nuclear research, housing Europe’s largest functioning nuclear fusion reactor. Some argue that the EU and Euratom are so closely bound together that it is impossible to leave one without leaving the other. They should look to Switzerland, outside the EU but an associate member of Euratom, participating in most of its programmes. Britain could seek similar status, or an even deeper relationship. Others worry that the horse has bolted as the prime minister’s Article 50 letter included a commitment to leaving Euratom, and all EU documents since have assumed Britain will leave. That is an obstacle, but a surmountable one. If political leaders on both sides want a change of direction, there will be one. The lawyers need not get involved.
Times 12th July 2017 read more »
Keir Starmer and Paul Blomfield: The Prime Minister’s Decision To Leave Euratom Shows She Is Willing To Put Ideology Above Jobs And Nuclear Safety. Euratom has provided a framework that has allowed Britain to become a world leader in nuclear research and which has enabled the safe and stable supply of fissile materials. It also plays a role in our NHS, and the Royal College of Radiologists has expressed concern that cancer patients could face delays in treatments if the supply of radioactive isotopes, used in scans and treatments, is threatened. Euratom is a successful co-operative agency that works for Britain. That’s why Labour tried to amend the Article 50 Bill to keep Britain in Euratom and it is why the Nuclear Industry Association has made it ‘crystal clear’ to the Government that they want Britain to retain membership. But like so many sectors of the economy, the nuclear industry has been ignored by the Prime Minister and when she triggered Article 50 she also gave notice of her intention to leave Euratom. It’s increasingly clear that this was a reckless decision. It wasn’t born of legal necessity. It wasn’t the result of a careful evaluation of needs of the British nuclear industry. Nor was it the result of considerations on how best to enforce nuclear safety. It was simply because the Euratom Treaty requires the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Frankly the national interest, access to cancer treatments, and the strength of British industries are far more important than the Prime Minister’s pet concerns. That is why Labour has called a debate today in Parliament on our membership of Euratom and why we will continue to put pressure on the Prime Minister to drop her opposition to Euratom and to put jobs and nuclear safety first
Huffington Post 12th July 2017 read more »
Albert Owen: On Wednesday 12th July I will open a debate in the House of Commons entitled ‘Negotiations on future Euratom membership’. In doing so I will ask the Government to act in order to provide safeguards on its decision to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and not put at risk vital aspects of the global nuclear industry and the impact that will have on the industry in the UK. As a member of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee I heard evidence of the risks from a variety of sources. Our inquiry concluded that the impact of Brexit on Euratom have not been thought through and the government has failed to consider the potentially disastrous ramifications for the nuclear industry. Listening to the evidence, I supported our committee’s conclusions linking the departure from Euratom and our withdrawal from the EU as a political decision and a consequence of the Prime Minister’s objective of ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK. The Government is adamant that it has received legal advice that the UK’s exit from Euratom is an inevitability of triggering Article 50 to exit the EU and adhere to its timetable of two years. However, I have heard evidence to the contrary that there is no legal necessity to trigger an exit from Euratom now. Moreover, there is a view held by legal experts that it is possible legally to de-couple the EU and Euratom treaties based on the fact that while they share institutions the two are separate legal instruments.
Politics 12th July 2017 read more »
Several MPs are expected to rebel over plans to quit the European atomic energy treaty Euratom, a move which Theresa May has said is a necessary part of the Brexit process. Although Euratom is legally distinct from the EU, the agency requires members to come under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, which May has vowed to leave. Conservative MP Ed Vaizey and Labour counterpart Rachel Reeves joined forces at the weekend to draw attention to the issue. A number of other MPs, including Tories Anna Soubry, Nicky Morgan, Nick Boles, Richard Benyon, Bob Neill and Antoinette Sandbach, as well as Labour MPs including Tom Watson and Chuka Umunna, have publicly supported the pair.May is reportedly now attempting to draw up plans for an approximation of the treaty, saying yesterday that “membership of Euratom is inextricably linked with membership of the European Union”.
City AM 11th July 2017 read more »
The Week 11th July 2017 read more »