Oettinger’s dreams of energy

Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger

Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger

Last night I attended another of Giles Chichester’s European Energy Forum Dinner Debates.  This was with Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, and because the Commissioner was coming, the event was exceptionally well attended — well over a hundred, I’d say — with the energy industries of Europe well represented.  I sat next to a guy from the German coal industry.

The Commissioner presented his dream of a single European energy market, a cat’s-cradle of interconnectors, smart grids, and more renewables, with the constant leitmotif of “more Europeanisation”.  And he was at pains to refer several times, and in very warm terms, to “our Russian partner”, which I took to be Gazprom.

As frequently happens, I managed to get in the first intervention from the floor, announcing myself as usual as UKIP’s Energy Spokesman.  I first congratulated the Commissioner on rating energy security ahead of “sustainability” (European-speak for compulsive greenery).  We so often hear of the “three pillars” of EU energy policy: sustainability, security of supply, and competitiveness, but in my experience everything else is subservient to green orthodoxy, and security of supply and competitiveness can go hang.  So credit where it’s due: Oettinger did at least prioritise security over climate mitigation in his speech (if not in his policy programme).

I suggested that he might also like to prioritise competitiveness and energy prices ahead of “sustainability”, since without economic growth he would certainly not be able to afford his profligate green policies and renewables.

And I added that our UK experience of “Europeanisation of energy” was that we were being required to close down half a dozen perfectly good coal-fired power stations.  Was the Commissioner aware that our UK Regulator Ofgem only this week was warning of power cuts and an “horrendous energy crunch”?

Oettinger gave  a circuitous answer in which he appeared to blame Britain’s privatisation and liberalisation of the energy market for our problems.  He didn’t mention the closure of the coal-fired power stations under the Large Combustion Plants Directive at all.

In a spirit of friendly banter, Giles, chairing the event, remarked that’s he’d hoped my contribution would be “short and to the point”.   My German neighbour remarked, sotto voce, that he thought it had been just the right length, and exactly to the point.  I noticed that most subsequent interventions were longer.

On leaving (and rather to my surprise) the Commissioner made a point of coming over to my table and shaking me by the hand.  I said that I still didn’t understand why we had to close our coal-fired power stations — at which he marched off with his entourage, with a knowing smile.  Of course the Commissioner knows that he is getting towards the end of his term (next year), so someone else will have to pick up the pieces when it all falls apart.

I recall that former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, on leaving office, moved with indecent haste to a lucrative appointment with Gazprom.  I hope Oettinger isn’t considering a similar move.

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6 Responses to Oettinger’s dreams of energy

  1. Andrew Shakespeare says:

    ” I hope Oettinger isn’t considering a similar move.”

    Good heavens, Roger, you are naive. What on earth do you think being a European commissioner is for, if not for making oneself comfortable and getting very, very rich? The EU is the biggest racket in the world! Everybody goes on about that Bernie Madoff bloke — peanuts compared to the EU!

  2. maureen gannon says:

    Sorry about this folks . But would someone pass the sick bucket please.

  3. The frustrations you are feeling at the moment mr Helmer, are being felt, (possibly more strongly,) by people in less well placed positions to even voice them.

  4. DougS says:

    RH: “…I recall that former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, on leaving office, moved with indecent haste to a lucrative appointment with Gazprom. I hope Oettinger isn’t considering a similar move”.

    I wouldn’t bet your house on it Roger!

  5. Wilfred Aspinall says:

    When the Single Market White Paper was published in 1985, written by Lord Arthur Cockfield the then British Commissioner for the Internal Market, it should be mentioned that neither energy or financial services were included in the legislative programme. It is over the years of both Conservative and Labour UK governments that these two essential subjects were added.

    To set a one size fits all for energy as against each member state developing their own energy policy does not allow for economic and competitive issues to be fully explored.

    The constant erosion of our ability in the UK to devise what is best for us against what is best for others points in only one direction. Leave the EU have cooperation with other countries where it is in our interest to do so.

    Closing coal fired power station when in other member states, and certainly on a global basis, more coal is being utilised for electricity production is not in our competitive interest.

    Ofgem will be right in their analysis that the lights will go out.

    Wilfred Aspinall
    Former Member
    European Economic and Social Committee

  6. Hugh Davis says:


    I have just listened incredulously to the Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2 when the the claim for damages of £5million by EDF against “green” protestors who occupied a Gas-fired power station (under construction) was discussed.

    Leaving aside the rights or wrongs of EDF’s action, what was totally depressing was that EVERY listener’s comment – whether for or against EDF – seemed to agree that the protest was legitimate. The protestors’ spokesperson claimed –

    a) no new gas powered power stations should be built as the cost of their electricity was causing high energy prices and fuel poverty
    b) instead, all new energy generation should be from renewables – especially wind as the UK was windy
    c) burning gas to generate electricity was destroying the planet.

    One has to conclude that either the ignorance of the population at large on these matters of vital national importance is total, or that the BBC deliberately withheld every single comment that pointed out the nonsense of the protestors’ claims.

    Whichever way, it is pretty shocking.
    Roger, you are not winning the war against Green propaganda!

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