UK must align itself to European energy market

Membership of the internal energy market will be in the UK’s best interests and would help decarbonise Europe’s power market, says report.
Published: Wed 28 Jun 2017

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Eurelectric, representing Europe’s electricity industry, says that the UK must remain aligned with the wider European energy market after it leaves the European Union (EU). The UK’s continued membership of the internal energy market (IEM) is crucial to the development of the region’s renewable integration.

UK’s energy plans in the EU unclear

It has been a year since the UK’s Brexit vote, with the country’s negotiations to leave the EU having formally started this month.  While energy has been listed by the British government as a priority, not much detail around the IEM has been forthcoming - a concern also expressed by the UK government’s own Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee says Eurelectric.

Secretary of State for leaving the EU, David Davis, failed to provide any clarity regarding future alignment with Europe’s energy sources during a select committee hearing prior to this month’s general election. The majority of the political parties also failed to discuss the IEM in their respective manifestos.

This comes as a concern for Eurelectric as it recognises that the UK is closely connected to the EU through a series of interconnectors, highlighted by National Grid as critical to balancing the country’s transmission network. On top of existing connectors to Ireland, France and Germany, future interconnectors are planned for other nations including Norway. It is these connections, both current and future, that should instigate more discussions around the finer points of the exit.

Eurelectric has stated that all parties currently negotiating the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU that energy must be a key feature in those discussions. 

IEM membership has benefits

Its new report, “Brexit: Maintaining free and fair trade of electricity and gas in Europe”, highlights the benefits of the IEM in the cross-border sharing of energy as reducing costs, improving security of supply and more efficiently integrating wider deployment of renewable generators.

It goes on to explain that any withdrawal from the UK must result in reconsiderations from the EU in meeting its climate targets as well as a potential reworking of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

Should the UK fail to negotiate its exit within the allotted two years, transitional arrangements specifically for energy would be welcomed. 

The report concludes that continued membership of the IEM is in the best interests of consumers and would continue to support the decarbonisation of Europe’s power market.

Kristian Ruby, Secretary General at Eurelectric, added: “Ease of access to secure, sustainable and affordable energy is critical for all economies and every effort should be made to minimise disruption of these objectives in the upcoming negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.”

According to the Florence School of Regulation, a centre for independent discussion and dissemination in terms of regulation, with an EU Energy Union focused on harmonisation and deeper integration across Member States, separating the UK from the EU could present significant challenges in uncharted territory. It adds that to date, the UK has played a major role in influencing the EU’s energy policies and has been at the forefront of liberalisation initiatives. 

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