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Eurobriefs - The latest from Brussels


Renewable bills

A report from the House of Lords Economic Committee says that Britain’s electricity costs would rise by £6.8 billion a year to meet EU targets for renewable energy.

Lord Vallance, the Committee’s Chairman, said, “…the dash to meet the EU’s 2020 targets may draw attention and investment away from cheaper and more reliable low carbon electricity generation - such as nuclear and, potentially, fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage.”

The report concludes that Britain is most likely to adopt wind power as its main source of renewable electricity. Wind is not reliable, leaving Britain to depend on intermittent supply to a much greater extent than elsewhere. Conventional generation capacity to back up wind turbines and the need to replace almost a quarter of Britain’s older capacity by 2020 represents a massive investment programme. The Committee doubts it is achievable in that time.

Metal workers protest

Over 10,000 metal workers protested in Brussels on 2 December against the controversial EU climate package under negotiation. The European Metalworkers’ Federation criticised the EU’s plan to force European heavy industry to pay for emissions permits from 2013. They believe the proposal endangers production and jobs because European producers face competition from producers who are not subject to emissions restrictions.

And a few billion more

Britain’s contributions to the EU are set to treble after failure to agree cuts in farm subsidies. Britain’s net contribution in 2008/9 is estimated at £2 billion, set to rise to £6 billion in 2010/11.

People who matter

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso claimed that some British politicians told him that Britain would have been better off if it had adopted the euro. He said, “I don’t mean to say that it will be tomorrow and I know that the majority in Britain are still opposed, but there is a period of consideration under way and the people who matter in Britain are currently thinking about it.” People who matter?