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Imports

Volume 934: debated on Thursday 30 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy what proportion of energy consumed in each of the member States of the EEC and in the Community as a whole was imported during each of the years for which data are available.

The following is the information for 1970–75, the latest years for which figures are available:Bonn, which I visited in 1976, because Dr. Friderichs, the German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, called on me in London.The diary also includes my visits to the United States. Norway, Saudi Arabia and the USSR. I undertook these visits as a UK Minister, and did not have a mandate, nor did I seek one, to represent the Community. However, my extensive discussions earlier with my Ministerial colleagues in the Community provided me with a valuable insight into their energy circumstances and views and enabled me to discuss the Community's position more authoritatively with my hosts abroad.The experience of the presidency and my visits abroad has left three main impressions:

the need for international energy consultations involving the oil producers and consumers and developed and developing countries, to fill a vacuum in international institutions which is remarkable considering the energy interdependence of nations and the vital nature to every country of its energy supplies;
the enormous ramifications, complexities and inherent uncertainties in a subject which touches on basic national interests and therefore puts a premium on perseverance and patience; and
the increasing awareness of the overriding need for coal, energy conservation and nuclear power if we are to fuel our economies.

The United Kingdom presidency of the Energy Council has not brought dramatic progress in the formulation of a Community energy policy and we did not expect it to do so. However, I believe that it has been marked by strong Ministerial—political—control over energy affairs which is essential. We have promoted greater informality and closer Ministerial links and, I hope, a greater sense of realism in our approach to a subject which must be seen increasingly in a wider international framework.

These developments give me some satisfaction since 1 set out to concentrate during my presidency on the Energy Council's methods of work. My only regret is the failure to persuade my Community colleagues to open part of the Council's discussions to representatives of the Press and European Assembly before whose Committee on Energy and Research I twice had the pleasure of appearing to explain the work of the Energy Council."