At the European Council last week worried Heads of State and government for the first time highlighted dear energy as a major impediemnt to growth and jobs in the EU. One cheer for that.
It is perhaps appropriate as we reach for warmer clothing in this wintry May that the EU’s leading politicians fall out of love with global warming theory.
It is difficult to know how they had missed the damage done by dear energy for so long. After all, they and their predecessors had merrily signed up for directive after directive, policy after policy, designed to make EU energy the dearest on the planet. What did they expect from their renewables requirements, their big plant directive, their carbon taxes and the rest? Surely they knew when they did this it would mean our energy came out a lot dearer than the US, Japan, China and the others? Some of us had been warning them for a long time that making our energy so dear did not save the planet, it just sent the industry from us to cheaper places.
Apparently someone circulated at the summit a chart showing that EU energy prices are now 37% higher than the US and 20% higher than Japan. That means we wont be making much steel, glass, ceramics and other items in furnaces and kilns in Europe. Nor is it easy for any automated factory, given the high energy costs modern equipment impose.
The problem is they are finding it difficult to turn the supertanker back from China to Europe. The rest of the summit conclusions gave more of the same energy policies based around carbon control, renewables and dearer energy prices to enforce energy saving.
All the politicians were able to do was to put into the summit conclusions the requirement that the Commissioners undertake a study of why the EU has dear energy and what can be done about it, to be completed by the end of 2013. Then the leaders will get a policy discussion in february 2014. No cheer for that. It just means more delay. Meanwhile granny feels cold and cannot afford the heating in May, and businesses decide to set up energy using factories well outside the EU.