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Energy Community Treaty: Policy Adoption and Policy Implementation in the Western Balkans

Open Panel

Abstract

The signing of the Energy Community Treaty (ECT) in 2005 between the EU and the Western Balkans (WB) aims towards an institutionalized regional energy policy and pave the way for stable investment in the energy sector. Thus, members of the Energy Community must adopt EU rules on electricity and gas markets, energy-related environmental and competition law and energy efficiency directives. While the ECT serves as a legal instrument for exporting EU energy norms and regulations, the reform process in the WB is torn between weak institutional set up and poor energy infrastructure that prevails in these countries. In addition, the membership prospective for the WB remains vague with only Croatia been close to join the EU soon. This paper explores the casual link between the WB decision to sign energy-related bilateral agreements with the EU, as well as these countries'' attempts to “harmonize” their domestic policies under the ECT framework. I analyse the reform process in the Western Balkans by focusing on the (ongoing) liberalization of the electricity and gas market in two countries namely, Albania and Serbia. The analysis will shade light on the EU’s capacity to exert its influence on (domestic) rule adoption and rule application. By comparing Albania’s and Serbia’s reforms to integrate their electricity and gas markets, the paper will explore the limitations of the EU’s sphere of influence on the domestic development of these countries and hence uncover the conditions under which the EU is able to export its own set of rules in the ''near abroad’.