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Richardson Says EU Could Help Energy Costs With OPEC Talk

The European Union could contain energy costs by calling for action from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, former U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said today.

“What they can do is band together as consumer countries and jawbone OPEC, which they’ve always been reluctant to do,” Richardson, a consultant for the Washington-based Apco Worldwide Inc., said in an interview in Brussels today.

The EU also can reshape its energy climate by turning to tax breaks instead of subsidies to spur renewable energy development, Richardson said. Such a shift could play a role in U.S.-EU trade talks on a possible free-trade agreement, he said.

European Union leaders next week will call for a study of energy prices and costs facing households and energy-intensive industries, according to draft conclusions of their May 22 summit. The draft says the European Commission will present their analysis of energy-price “composition and drivers” before the end of 2013 for talks in February 2014.

Richardson said U.S.-EU trade talks may gain a boost now that President Barack Obama has nominated Michael Froman, deputy national security adviser for international economics, for the post of U.S. Trade Representative.

“He’s the best possible point man the president could have chosen,” Richardson said. He said Froman “has the ear of the president,” giving him clout to negotiate with lawmakers and make deals on the White House’s behalf.

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