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An EU source warned Britain could lose “top-up in access to our electricity markets” unless it compromises with Brussels in ongoing trade talks over fishing and state aid rules.
European officials close to the talks have warned Britain could lose energy supplies unless a deal is done, with the UK leaving the bloc by the end of the year. It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson reaffirmed “there is a deal to be done” as Michel Barnier and David Frost, EU and UK chief negotiators, met in London for further trade talks.
The National Grid has said there is more than enough energy capacity in the UK to cope with any loss of EU gas and electricity.
They said: “In the highly unlikely event of no interconnector flows between Great Britain and continental Europe we have the tools and capabilities to ensure security of supply.” The
Telegraph reported that interconnectors from France, Belgium and Holland provided 9 percent of the UK’s electricity this year so far, but this is because European utilities are marginally cheaper than British sources.
The UK has 45 gas plants and four coal plants, and can be paid £8.40 for a kilowatt of dispatch able power, which is kept in excess for emergencies.
The report added there are 46.4 gigawatts of dispatch able capacity in the UK, which is just enough to cover a potential European shortfall.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy also said the have a safety margin of 4.8 gigawatts, which is roughly the same as supply capacity as the EU interconnections.
They added: “We have one of the most reliable energy systems in the world.
“The UK’s exit from the EU will not alter the fact that our energy system is secure, and supplied from diverse sources.”
The report followed threats from Brussels officials and sources that the UK will see a loss of “top-off access” from European electricity.
Speaking to The Telegraph an EU official close to the talks said: “We don’t see why we should automatically give the UK this additional top-up in access to our electricity markets when they refuse to agree to level playing field commitments or give our fishermen access to fishing opportunities, worth a lot less economically.”
French President Emmanuel Macron also issued warnings to the UK over fishing and energy, and signalled in October he would launch an energy embargo should France lose access to British waters.
Speaking to French radio stations at the time the President noted an embargo would hurt Britain’s economy, with French fishing in the UK worth €650 million to the EU but access to European energy markets was worth up to £2.3billion (€2.5bn) to the UK.
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Recently, Mr Frost has presented Mr Barnier a new fishing plan to break the deadlocked trade talks.
The EU negotiator will review the new offer, which has not been detailed publicly, while UK sources claimed the pair “remain as far apart as ever on the major issues”.
Mr Barnier has until December 10 to strike a deal with the UK due to the European Parliament’s ratification process, increasing the pressure on the negotiator.
French Europe minister Clement Beaune added: “If it happens after the end of November we will be in trouble.”
The UK will leave the EU at the start of the new year, with the Prime Minister remaining confident a deal will be struck.
Earlier this month, Mr Johnson said: “I very much hope that we will, but obviously that depends on our friends and partners across the Channel.
“I think there is a deal to be done, if they want to do it.
“If not, the country is, of course, very well prepared. As I have said before, we can do very well with on Australian terms, if that is what we have to go for.”
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