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Eurotrash - The latest from Brussels


Off to Bulgaria?

The European Parliament has overwhelmingly adopted a proposal to allow automatic extradition to another EU country after someone is convicted by a foreign court in their absence. Several countries that do not currently recognise judgements in absentia would be forced to allow this practice, including Britain.

Yet the Brown government backs the proposal; it will be presented to the Council of Ministers within the next three months, the first step to becoming national law. The European Criminal Bar Association said the proposal was “a violation of the fundamental procedural rights of the accused”.

Hot air from Brussels

The British government has signed up to the European energy plan – for 20 per cent of all energy to come from renewable sources by 2020. That that implies about 40 per cent of electricity from renewables, mostly wind. This may not be feasible, and will certainly be costly.

Energy from wind turbines is derisory: the 1,600 megawatt coal plant planned for Kingsnorth would generate two-and-a-half times as much electricity as all the 2,300 wind turbines already built in Britain.

A report by Professor Ian Fells of Newcastle University warns that Britain could lose one third of electricity generating capacity by 2012 to 2015, as ageing coal and nuclear power stations are set to close. That would cause “dramatic shortfalls” in power supply.

Fells says that EU targets for energy efficiency are “demonstrably unattainable”. Plans for up to 7,000 offshore wind turbines by 2020 would require continuous installation at 10 times the best current rate.

Government figures show a subsidy of £1 billion for renewables last year. Fells estimates the cost of achieving the EU plans at £20 to £30 billion by 2020. The National Housing Federation estimates it will be more, adding another 25 per cent to domestic electricity bills within 2 years and pushing almost a quarter of the population into fuel poverty by the end of 2009. Yet EU rules forced Brown to drop any idea of raising £500 million to fund fuel vouchers for vulnerable families.