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by Alain Lipietz | 20 October 2008

Facing oil prices
Avis pour la Commission économique et monétaire
“Les “rapports pour avis “ sont limités à 1500 signes mais le rapporteur peut ensuite proposer ses propres amendements. Voici donc le texte complet, avec en caractères gras et italiques les amendements que nous déposerons.”


The Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs calls on the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

A. Whereas the price of oil has increased from less than 50 dollars per barrel in the early 2000 to more than 140 dollars in August 2008, than sharply reduced to less than 60 dollars per barrel;

B. Whereas higher oil prices and other basically needed commodities have raised the costs of production and put upward pressures on overall prices, considering the important linkages across commodities;

C. Whereas the rise of inflation triggered off by basic commodities and oil prices hikes has provoked an erosion of the purchasing power, which has not been properly addressed;

D. Whereas the oil price increase and decrease of these last months reflects cyclical and structural factors;

E. Whereas the oil prices fluctuation has highlighted the dual nature of commodities; whereas oil or other commodities are not only used as inputs of production or consumption, but also as a financial asset subject to speculation;

F. Whereas the development of new investment vehicles on oil and other fundamental commodities market, as well as the investment of hedge funds in commodities, has amplified their price volatility; and whereas there is a need to ensure greater transparency on energy markets;

1. Takes the view that higher oil prices reflect a structural imbalance between supply and demand caused, in the main, by two factors: progressive depletion of the oil reserves and a change in demographic and urbanisation trends, especially in emerging countries, where the rise in average income is causing an increase in demand; underlines also that oil and other commodities have been increasingly used for portfolio diversification as a result of the depreciation of the US dollar;

2. Expresses its concerns about the volatility in commodity prices over the last years and its effects on inflation, and its impact on purchasing power and financial stability; stresses that soaring oil prices have been exacerbated by large trading activities on this market, among which hedge funds, aggravating speculative bubble that burst out at the end of 2008; urges the Commission and the Member States to look into the recent movements in commodity market prices, which are an integral part of the crisis cycle, and to ensure greater transparency on the energy market;

3. Believes that oil and other basic commodities should be insulated from speculators and hedge funds, since speculation on basic needs are done at the expense of people all over the world; is of the view that speculation in oil and commodities creates a strong case for exploring the introduction of a special tax on financial transactions; calls on the Commission and Member States to strive for an international agreement committing all signatories to impose such a tax on financial transactions.

3. bis (new) Stresses that sustained demand for oil has increasingly pushed supply up against capacity limits, urges to improve the data transparency on energy statistics, especially in respect with oil stock levels;

3 ter (new) Points out that the EU will have to face even more the challenge of lasting high and volatile oil prices and the economic impacts connected to them, considering that newly-discovered resources have tended to be smaller and more expensive to develop, being increasingly offshore, and the costs of exploration, development and production will get higher, making it more urgent to switch to alternative energy sources and to develop energy-saving technologies and renewable;

4. Expresses its concern that during the phase of oil price increase, there is more of a burden on labour to absorb increased costs through lower real wages; considers that the imported inflation triggered by the increase in oil price should be addressed, in particular, by distributing purchasing power more evenly; considers nevertheless that a regular oil price increase should be made predictable for consumers, as it reflects both exhaustibility of this resource and the necessity to integrate its negative external effects on climate in its costs;

5. Underlines that green taxation or an effective cap on emissions and the adoption of a wide range of energy and transport-related measures are important tools for smoothing out oil price volatility and for stimulating the development of a wide-ranging, cutting-edge market for energy-efficient technologies and products; also underlines the importance of the application of the ’polluter-pays’ principle; considers there is scope for expanding the use of environmentally related taxes if both Member States and the EU are serious about achieving their climate change objectives; recalls that the greater the number of countries that put similar policies in place, the more limited the impact on sectoral competitiveness of those policies, in particular where ecotaxes substitute taxes on activity.

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