A typical EU Parliament Committee meeting
Just a couple of days ago I wrote about the disaster of European energy policy, which is creating “an Industrial Massacre in Europe” (former Commissioner Antonio Tajani). It is driving jobs and investment and industry — and emissions — out of Europe altogether. Often they go to jurisdictions with lower environmental standards, so we may also be increasing global emissions as we undermine EU competitiveness.
In steel, and aluminium, and petroleum refining, and glass, and chemicals, and cement, plants are closing and hundreds of thousands — maybe millions — of jobs are being lost across Europe. And this is the result not of bad luck, or an act of fate, but as a direct consequence of deliberate policy decisions which have forced up the price of energy.
I described how a new proposal for a “Market Stability Reserve” attached to the ETS was deliberately designed to raise the cost of energy still further — the steel industry expects a 40% increase by 2020. Major industries clinging on by their finger-nails see this as the coup de grace.
Last Thursday, in the Industry & Energy Committee (ITRE), we had the vote on the parliament’s report (drafted by Mr. Tajani — now an MEP again) on the Commission’s MSR proposal. The Commission wants its disastrous MSR to be implemented by 2021, but the combined forces of the left and the Greens — plus, incredibly and shamefully, the British Conservatives — were pressing for an earlier implementation date of 2017.
Naturally, on the basis that suicide postponed is better than suicide today, we in UKIP are firmly opposed both to the MSR, and to the earlier start-date. But incredibly, the advice from the British Government to UK MEPs was to support both the MSR and the 2017 date. I sense the hand of Lib-Dem Energy Minister Ed Davey in this. If Tory back-benchers knew what was being done in their name, I suspect that most of them would be horrified.
The vote was on a knife-edge, and there was much jockeying for position ahead of it. I have the only UKIP seat on ITRE, but our Lithuanian colleague Mr. Paksas was absent, so I got my good UKIP colleague David Coburn MEP (Scotland) to take his place.
To my surprise and gratification, the amendment for the earlier 2017 date was rejected — but by a tiny margin. Even more astonishing — the whole report was rejected in the final vote. This is one of those cases where we can say that our two UKIP votes made the difference — and I hope that intensive energy users in Britain will take note and be duly grateful. I was saddened to see British Tory MEPs slavishly following the government line and voting against industrial competitiveness.
This does not mean, of course, that the MSR has gone away — still less the ETS. The fact that the parliament was unable to agree an opinion merely means that the Commission position remains un-amended, with its MSR in 2021. But who knows. In that famous line from the early BBC series Henry the Eighth, the man said: “By then, the King may die. Or I may die. Or the Horse may talk”. And maybe by 2021 the UK will be out of the EU entirely. And at least we have more time for the Green Taliban to see the error of its ways.