Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Panel 607: Change and Continuity in EU Energy Policies
Tuesday, 03/Sep/2019:
2:55pm - 4:25pm

Session Chair: Pierre Bocquillon, University of East Anglia
Location: Room 12.09

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Contested Energy Transition? Europeanization and Authority Turns in EU Renewable Energy Policy

Helge Jörgens2, Israel Solorio1

1National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico; 2ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

In a context of multiple crises, the European Union’s climate and energy policies have become highly politicized and contested. This is particularly true for the promotion of renewable energy sources (RES). Taking a circular vision on Europeanization, this article unravels the renegotiation of authority in the EU renewable energy policy case in successive rounds of negotiation, adoption and implementation of RES policies at the European level. Our analysis focuses on the three main legislative instruments in this policy area: the 2001 Directive on Electricity Production from RES, the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive (RED), and the 2018 RED II. Based on longitudinal process-tracing, this paper explores (i) how and why authority was conferred to the EU; (ii) what types of contestation on the part of Member States has emerged; and (iii) how authority conflicts have been addressed. To get a better understanding of the authority turns between the EU and the national level, our analysis focuses on two main features of this policy: the nature of the EU RES target, which impacts on the EU’s capacity to set goals and watch compliance, and the debate on support systems, which relates to the EU’s authority to determine the means by which RES is promoted in the member states. Taking into account processes of policy feedback, we explore whether and how Europeanization amplifies the diffuseness of power and authority between the EU and its member states and assesses how and under which conditions Europeanization can trigger de-Europeanization and a weakening of European integration.

Energy Trade: A Cooperative Exception in EU-Russia Relations?

Marco Siddi

Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Finland

Despite political tensions, Russia remains the most important supplier of fossil fuels to the EU. Indeed, volumes of oil and gas exports have increased since 2015. The persistence of the EU-Russia energy relationship in times of crisis highlights its relevance as a cooperative ‘zone of contact’. However, mutual suspicions and the lack of trust have induced both sides, and some EU member states in particular, to explore options to diversify their commercial partners. This paper explores the evolving nature of the EU-Russia energy partnership: to what extent is it a cooperative exception in the broader, confrontational political and security context? It argues that liberal approaches and complex interdependence provide the most apt theoretical framework to explain why energy trade has continued despite political tensions. Bridging this approach with social constructivist scholarship allows an understanding of how expanding trade has coexisted with growing distrust and discursive conflict. Confrontational discourses stem primarily from deep-rooted identity factors in some EU member states, which were corroborated by Russia’s agency in the Ukraine crisis. These discourses tend to disregard the realities of energy trade and securitise EU-Russia energy relations.

Energy policies in the EU: An Assessment of the First Twenty Years of Failure (1955-1975)

Marta Musso

King's College London, United Kingdom

This paper analyses the European-level debates on energy policies from the postwar period until the first oil shock. Little attention has been given to the historical analysis of the role of energy in the European integration project, in spite of the fact that the first nuclei of a united Europe were the European Coal Organisation (ECO), set up in 1945 by the United States and the UK to coordinate supplies in the continent during a severe coal shortage, and the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the first European-level institution.

Despite integrated energy supply networks always being at the centre of the debates on integration, European countries have tended to implement national-level energy policies, sometimes to each other’s detriment. Bilateral agreements and sauve qui peut approaches have prevailed over concerted-action, especially during energy crises. When common policies were implemented, it was mostly in the cadre of larger cooperation agreements under Western cooperation, such as OECD resolutions or the establishment of the International Energy Agency (IEA) in the aftermath of the 1973 oil shock.

The lack of integration in the energy sector is not just indicative of the difficulties of harmonising the domestic needs of nation States, but it reflects the profound differences in foreign relations that European countries implement. The shift from a coal-based to a hydrocarbons-based energy system turned Europe as a whole into a heavily importing area; a new paradigm that went in parallel with the decolonisation process and the need for European countries to re-invent diplomatic and economic relations with former colonies.

This research proposes an investigation in the history of European negotiations for energy supplies from 1956, when the European Economic Community was established, up to the first oil shock. The research is based on the documents produced by European-level meetings and institutions during the period 1955-1975 related to energy. In particular, the paper focuses on the documents produced by the working group “Coordination des politiques énergétiques” (Coordination of energy policies) and the “Commissions de l'Energie classique” (Commission for traditional energy sources), which have not yet been the object of a dedicated study. Overall, the paper aims to assess the difficulties and effective willingness of European countries to integrate their energy policies despite the constant declarations for the need to create an integrated energy supply strategy, during the two decades leading to the oil shock.

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