Martin Lewis urges Sunak to 'rethink' energy levy in February
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In a new post-Brexit clash, the European Commission today complained to the World Trade Organisation that Boris Johnson’s administration was favouring British firms when handing out tens of millions of pounds in taxpayer-funded investment.
Eurocrats accused the UK Government of “discriminatory practices” that breached international competiton rules.
Ministers are furious that the EU has triggered the row in the midst of the Ukraine crisis when Western countries are cooperating on the drive to find alternative energy sources to Russian gas and oil.
A Government spokesman said: “We are disappointed that the Commission has taken this course of action at a time when we are focused on increasing our energy security and supply of home-grown renewable energy.
“It is particularly disappointing that the EU has chosen to initiate the dispute now, considering the level of collaboration between the UK and the EU in the face of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
“The UK abides by World Trade Organisation law and will rigorously contest the EU’s challenge.”
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is understood to be deeply irritated by the EU’s behaviour.
A Whitehall source said: “At a time when the West should be united in defeating Putin, this act of envy by Brussels is ill-judged and ill-timed. We should be working together to strengthen European clean energy security, not fighting this out in court.
“Our Supply Chain policy is comparable to many other schemes in the EU, so we are puzzled why Brussels are challenging our scheme when they do pretty much the same.
“The Business Secretary has asked officials to rigorously contest the EU’s challenge.”
Whitehall insiders also argue that similar subsidy schemes to operating in several EU member nations.
Tory MP Craig Mackinlay, a leading Brexiteer and chairman of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group of Conservative backbenchers, said: “It is remarkable that at the height of an energy emergency and while a war rages at the gates of NATO, the EU feel it necessary to launch a WTO action against the UK speaks volumes about the EU’s sense of proportionality.
“I have my own concerns about the cost borne by consumers and taxpayers in the dash to shore up inefficient and expensive offshore wind power and am doing my bit to bring common sense to bear.
“Energy policy is surely a decision for the UK no matter how daft it might be.
“The EU simply reinforces once more the reason we wanted out of its cloying clutches.”
A statement from the European Commission yesterday claimed UK subsidies “violated” the World Trade Organisation’s core principle of fair competition.
“The criteria used by the UK government in awarding subsidies for offshore wind energy projects favour UK over imported content.
“This violates the WTO’s core tenet that imports must be able to compete on an equal footing with domestic products and harms EU suppliers,” the statement said.
“The EU has raised its concerns with the UK on several occasions, but to no avail.
“The EU is, therefore, bringing the matter to the World Trade Organisation and hopes that it can be resolved swiftly.
“The dispute settlement consultations that the EU has requested are the first step in World Trade Organisation dispute settlement proceedings. If they do not lead to a satisfactory
solution within 60 days, the EU can request the World Trade Organisation to set up a panel to rule on the matter.”
Disputes taken the World Trade Organisation can be taken to a panel of experts which can order countries to change their policies and even pay compensation.
The UK Government has a commitment with the offshore wind industry to ensure 60% of the parts in wind farms are made in the UK by 2030.
Plans for five new wind farms off the North East coast have been launched over the last year.
Officials say the plans will secure 3,000 jobs and leverage around £1.5billion of private investment.
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