Official tells Lords committee "whoever wishes to participate has to abide by the rules"

The UK lacks a “unique selling point” to ensure its continued participation in the EU’s internal energy market, one of the Swiss industry’s top officials has warned.

Jean-Christophe Fueeg, head of international energy affairs at the Swiss Federal Office of Energy, was quizzed earlier today by the House of Lords EU energy and environment select committee as part of its inquiry into the EU’s energy security post-Brexit.

He said that there Switzerland had already had to decouple its domestic energy market from the IEM because it was not a member of the EU’s wider institutional framework.

And Fueeg said its participation in the IEM was being progressively chipped away.

“We’ve been sitting at the table but feel that the legs of the chair are being sawed away.”

For example, he said that Swiss companies had been excluded from the EU’s emerging intra-day electricity trading market. Decoupling from the IEM would cost Switzerland an estimated 120m euros.

Fueeg said he did not believe that the UK had a unique selling point, which would force the EU to modify its hard-line stance on participation in the IEM.

“Common sense would dictate that Switzerland is a full participant but the reality is that since electricity is tied to institutional arrangements there is no scope for movement except for balancing where it is necessary.

“Our experience is that you need a unique selling point.

“Whoever wishes to participate has to abide by the rules.”

Fueeg also said that Switzerland’s exclusion from the EU’s network codes meant that it was harder to control the flow of electricity across the border when renewable sources ebbed and flowed.

Switzerland, located in the heart of the EU, has traditionally enjoyed close energy trading relationships with its surrounding EU neighbours, which benefits the country both during the summer when it has a surplus of hydro-electric power and in the winter when the flipside is the case.