Wednesday, 15 February 1995
Dáil Éireann Debate
26. Mr. Clohessy asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment if he has satisfied himself with the progress being made closing the gap between tax exclusive motor fuel prices in Ireland and in the rest of the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3384/95]
Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton): Our pre-tax prices are higher than the European average according to a recent EU survey.The Fair Trade Commission's 1990  report of its inquiry into the supply and distribution of motor fuels pointed out that a comparison of Irish prices with the average of all other European prices was unlikely to be valid because of differences in product quality, the intervention of government in certain EU countries through price control mechanisms and the existence of a “Mediterranean” market and a “North West European” market, with countries which are further from the Middle East tending to pay higher prices.
The Commission's report also suggested that our geographical location, where product had to be shipped from a refinery in the UK in small vessels, was another factor contributing to our higher imported prices.
In my capacity as Minister for Enterprise and Employment I am, of course, concerned that prices to Irish business and consumers should be as competitive as possible. In this connection, I would draw the Deputy's attention to the policy agreement for Government which provides for the strengthening of competition law by giving the Competition Authority powers of enforcement and enabling the courts to impose fines on those found to be engaging in unfair competition. It is my hope to proceed with these proposals as soon as possible. I am also drawing up a list of areas where competitive forces might operate more effectively.
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