You may wonder why we should be concerned about new rules from Europe if, on the face of it, they seem to be very close to what is already in place here in the UK.
But this move is deeply unsettling.
Apart from the risks to safety posed by dismantling the UK’s existing regime, acknowledged by the Commission itself as being amongst the best in the world, replacing it with a generic, “one-size-fits-all” pan-EU Regulation controlled from Brussels would add no value in terms of improvements to safety and environmental protection in UK waters.
Just as concerning would be the effective shift of control over the UK’s oil and gas reserves away from the experienced and highly expert UK regulators to the EU – a body which has no established capability or competence in these matters.
The text of the proposed legislation hides another significant threat to the country’s right under the Lisbon Treaty to develop its own energy resources.
Within the proposal are articles which would allow the EU Commission, through “delegated acts”, to introduce future amendments which could effectively bypass member states’ governments.
Oil & Gas UK is not anti-legislation on safety, provided it does improve safety standards and environmental protection.
These proposals from the EU Commission will do no such thing but have a real potential to reduce the safety of operations in the UK.
The draft Regulation is a proposed transfer of competence away from the UK and to the EU which is not sensible and entails a real danger of lowering safety.
• Robert Paterson is the health and safety director for Oil & Gas UK