Select Page
Lawyers In For Britain: The UK and the EU: Benefits, misconceptions and alternatives banner

Being an EU Member State helps the UK to secure more affordable, secure and clean energy for consumers. It improves the UK’s ability to meet its current and future energy needs in a way that is more cost-effective than would otherwise be the case if it acted alone.

  • The UK is dependent on energy imports. In 2014, the UK imported 46% of the energy that it consumes.[1] Being an EU Member State and having a common European energy policy helps the UK to secure lower prices on energy imports from outside the EU, as the EU has greater negotiating power than the UK alone.[2] This results in lower energy bills for consumers.
  • The EU is working with Member States to remove regulatory obstacles to cross-border trade of electricity and gas,[3] and increase the interconnection of energy supplies to enhance energy security in Europe.
  • Interconnectors connect the UK with other national energy networks. More interconnection reduces the UK’s reliance on imported fuels by allowing it to use the excess power of neighbouring countries and vice-versa, which results in lower wholesale and retail energy prices. Furthermore, it results in a diversity of energy supply, and resilience against failures and extreme weather events. In short, the integration of the UK’s energy market with other EU countries enables the UK to deliver clean, affordable and secure energy supplies. The National Grid estimates that each 1GW of new interconnector capacity could reduce Britain’s wholesale power prices by up to 1-2%. It also estimates that 4-5GW of new links built to mainland Europe could unlock up to £1 billion worth of benefits to energy consumers per year, equating to nearly £3 million per day by 2020 [4]
  • The EU has established EU policies for accelerated planning and approval of cross-border projects such as Projects of Common Interest.[5] The EU provides funding for Projects of Common Interest and, in 2015, the Commission announced that three energy projects spanning England, Northern Ireland, and Wales will share €7.7 million (£5.5 million) of EU funds to improve energy security and help connect the UK grid to the energy markets across the European continent.[6]
  • A common European energy policy helps EU Member States to pool their combined energy resources more efficiently. For example, Member States with large amounts of sunshine can focus on solar whereas the UK can focus on wind.
  • The EU’s drive towards liberalising the energy market has increased competition among energy suppliers resulting in lower energy bills for consumers and incentivising energy companies to be more efficient.[7]
  • The EU’s promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency has resulted in greater progress having been made in the UK in these areas.[8] The EU economy is currently the most carbonefficient major economy in the world and the EU is one of only three major economies[9] that generate more than half of its electricity without producing greenhouse gases.[10]
  • As a member of the EU, the UK benefits from research projects which the EU sponsors. Energy research and innovation play an essential role in addressing the challenge of satisfying security of energy supply in the EU, competitiveness of the EU industry and ensuring affordable prices for EU citizens. UK companies can also benefit from EU funding for energy-related research projects[11] such as Horizon 2020, which is a €80 billion (£62 billion)[12] fund available from 2014 to 2020.[13]

Energy UK (the energy industry trade association) submits that: “A single European market in electricity and gas is bringing benefits to the UK through greater competition, more efficient resource use and the economies of scale of a larger market. Stronger energy infrastructure and the convergence of market arrangements will further facilitate cross-border trade, which should also enhance UK security of supply. Although the UK thus far has limited interconnection, gas trade with the Continent has been developing rapidly, and a number of electricity interconnectors are likely to be built in the medium term. Interconnection and market integration will also play an important role in allowing greater use of renewable energy, which should benefit the UK, given its significant renewables resource”.[14]


 

  1. Department of Energy & Climate Change, Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics (DUKES), 2015, Table 1B –https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/450302/DUKES_2015.pdf – Page 17.
  2. For example, in its submissions for the Review of the Balance of Competences Energy Report, Shell submits that: “The ability to leverage within larger government to government international agreements is far more beneficial from inside of the EU. Globally there has been an increase in the number of government to government deals. These multi-sectoral deals offer packages on energy, infrastructure, finance etc. In many resource holding countries (for example, in Central Asia) the host government is keen to deal with a single entity, for example, for energy exports” – HM Government, Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union – Energy Report, Summer 2014, paragraph 2.5.21 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/332794/2902398_BoC_Energy_acc.pdf – Page 66).
  3. European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank – State of the Energy Union 2015, SWD(2015) 208 – https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2015/EN/1-2015-572-EN-F1-1.PDF – Page 7.
  4. See http://www2.nationalgrid.com/Mediacentral/UK-Press-releases/2014/%C2%A31-billion-could-be-saved-from-electricity-costs-if-UK-doubles-its-interconnector-capacity-by-2020,-says-new-analysis-from-National-Grid/.“It is clear from the analysis that GB’s security of supply would be enhanced by further interconnection… interconnection is also one of the technologies that can assist with the integration of further low-carbon generation”, Department of Energy & Climate Change, More interconnection: improving energy security and lowering bills, December 2013, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/266460/More_interconnection_-_improving_energy_security_and_lowering_bills.pdf – page 4.
  5. “Projects of Common Interest” agreed between the European Commission and EU Member States benefit from accelerated planning and permit granting procedures. Projects of Common Interest are designated under Regulation 347/2013 are eligible for EU funding (Regulation (EU) No 347/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2013 on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure and repealing Decision No 1364/2006/EC and amending Regulations (EC) No 713/2009, (EC) No 714/2009 and (EC) No 715/2009). They also benefit from measures to facilitate the timely development and interoperability of trans-European energy networks – http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:02013R0347-20140110&qid=1456913326404&from=EN.
  6. http://ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/press/frontpage/2015/75 en.htm.  Also see: https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/CEF_Energy_2015_call_for_proposals.pdf.
  7. HM Government, Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union – Energy Report, Summer 2014, paragraph 2.2.5 – “Particular benefits for UK interests identified by stakeholders were: (i) increased competition, including breaking up monopolies and separation of operators from supply and generation activities; (ii) benefits to consumers including lower prices than what they would otherwise have been without the internal market legislation; (iii) a significant rationalisation and liberalisation of the way in which the market operates that has facilitated cross-bored trading and led to more liquid markets…”. (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/332794/2902398_BoC_Energy_acc.pdf – Page 43)
  8. The EU introduced climate change regulations including: the EU Energy Efficiency Directive ( Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC) (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:02012L0027-20130701&qid=1456915601559&from=EN), the EU Emissions Directive as amended (Directive 2003/87/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 2003 establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community and amending Council Directive 96/61/EC) (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:02003L0087-20151029&qid=1456915768839&from=EN) and the EU Renewable Energy Directive (Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC) (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:02009L0028-20151005&qid=1456915850666&from=EN). The UK has committed to have 15% of its energy consumption derive from renewable sources by 2020 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/48128/2167-uk-renewable-energy-roadmap.pdf  – Page 9.
  9. The others are Brazil and Canada  – https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2015/EN/1-2015-572-EN-F1-1.PDF – Page 2. 
  10. European Commission, Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European Investment Bank – State of the Energy Union 2015, SWD(2015) 208, – https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2015/EN/1-2015-572-EN-F1-1.PDF – Page 2. 
  11. In order to ensure that UK companies have the best chance of securing EU funding, the UK Government has created the EU Energy Focus service. This is a free UK Government-funded service that aims to ensure that UK organisations are well informed and have every chance of success in applying for and securing European funding for energy-related projects (http://www.euenergyfocus.co.uk/).
  12. This figure is based on an average €/£ exchange rate of 0.80612, based on European Central Bank data for 2014.
  13. https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en/h2020-section/secure-clean-and-efficient-energy.
  14. See Energy UK’s submissions for HM Government, Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union – Energy Report, Summer 2014 document issued 15 January 2014 under reference EC09/14. (https://www.energy-uk.org.uk/publication.html?task=file.download&id=2938 – Page 4). ↑