As the wider debate over Brexit interminably winds on in Parliament and the public sphere, some detailed aspects of the implications of Brexit get overlooked. For example, today Rachel Reeves MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has written to energy minister Richard Harrington, to call for clarity on a series of issues relating to the UK’s ongoing relationship with the EU and Euratom and the Government’s plans for civil nuclear in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario.
David Lowry’s Blog 6th Dec 2018 read more »
As Parliament grapples with ministers in a power struggle over disclosure of legal advice on the Brexit ‘divorce’ agreement and the sovereignty of Parliament, other Brexit–related details have been pushed into the background: but they should not be. One such issue arose last week in a written answer by the energy minister Richard Harrington to Green Party MP Caroline Lucas (who represents the Brighton, Pavilion constituency). Dr Lucas asked the business and energy department on 20 November, with reference to Article 83, paragraphs (1) and (2) of the Draft Agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU and the European Atomic Energy Agency (dated 14 November 2018), who will own fissile materials stored at UK nuclear facilities after the UK withdraws from that agency. (‘Radioactive Materials,’ 193428) In his answer on 28 November, the energy minister stated: “Under the current European Atomic Energy Community (“Euratom”) Treaty arrangements, special fissile material is collectively owned by the Euratom Community, but the operator with the legal title to the material has an “unlimited right of use and consumption” over it, subject to their complying with the obligations imposed on them by the Treaty. This form of supranational, or sovereign, ownership underpins the regulation of special fissile materials by the Euratom Community in accordance with the Euratom Treaty.
David Lowry’s Blog 4th Dec 2018 read more »
Rachel Reeves has urged the government to provide greater clarity about its plans for civil nuclear power if the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal deal. The chair of the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee has written to Richard Harrington, who has responsibility for the nuclear industry in his portfolio as minister for business and industry, for more details about the government’s post-Brexit plans for the nuclear industry. In the letter, Reeves acknowledges indications of progress on the civil nuclear relationship between the EU and the UK regarding issues like safeguards and trading arrangements. The government passed a bill last year outlining plans to create a new safeguarding regime for nuclear material and labour once the UK has to leave its existing arrangements under the Euratom treaty. The letter seeks more detail on the plans that the government is making to ensure that the civil nuclear sector can continue to function after next March if parliament has been unable to secure a broader separation agreement and whether a side-deal with Euratom is being pursued. She also quizzes Harrington on whether the UK has received any signals from Euratom about whether it will be possible to maintain the “close association” that the government has said it wanted with the EU-wide nuclear co-operation arrangement. Reeves also asks whether the government has made any arrangements to overcome possible hitches in the nuclear new build programme if the upcoming migration white paper inhibits the inflow of the migrant labour which has been “essential” for such projects.
Utility Week 7th Dec 2018 read more »
Letter to Guardian: Your energy editor’s report on the new UK-Belgium energy interconnector (“Funding Nemo: £600m power cable now links UK to Belgium,” overlooks one crucial matter: how will any disputes arising from the joint facility be resolved once the UK has left the EU and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice? This complexity was foreseen in a research paper issued by London-based think tank Chatham House 18 months ago ( “Staying Connected: Key Elements for UK–EU27 Energy Cooperation After Brexit”, 10 May 2017 https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/staying-connected-key-elements-uk-eu27-energy-cooperation-after-brexit, authored by Antony Froggatt, Senior Research Fellow on Energy, Environment and Resources at CH, (and his colleagues from CH Europe Programme plus the Energy Policy Group at University of Exeter). Their research paper proposed that energy – particularly electricity – should be treated as a special case in the UK’s future relationship with the EU27. They argue that “strong UK–EU27 energy cooperation could help ensure that existing and future interconnectors – physical pipes and cables that transfer energy across borders – between the UK, Ireland and the continent are used as efficiently as possible.”
David Lowry’s Blog 7th Dec 2018 read more »