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ECPR 50th Anniversary Fund

The EU’s external energy policy: How EU policy is shaped by energy security and relations with neighbouring producer and transit countries

European Union
International Relations
Political Economy
Madalina Sisu Vicari
Université de Liège
Madalina Sisu Vicari
Université de Liège

The paper seeks to provide deeper insights into the interplay between energy governance (energy cooperation between EU and neighbouring energy-producers and transit countries), economics (relations with energy producers, transit countries, energy suppliers) and materiality (internal energy market, supply routes, physical infrastructure) in the formation of the EU’s external energy governance. Energy security is a multi-dimensional concept, “highly-context dependent” (Kruyt et al 2009), whose conceptualization is determined by the type of stakeholders which it addresses (supranational actor; producer-, transit- and consumer country), and whose interconnected dimensions are shaped by the stakeholders’ aims and policies, and subsidiary by the nature of the markets. Earlier, the preoccupations related to the EU’s energy security concerned the security of oil supplies. Beginning with the 2000s, the EU’s dependence on external gas supplies started to be taken into consideration in the assessment and conceptualization of the EU’s energy security and several years later it turned into its main concern (EC 2006). The Ukrainian gas crises of 2006 and 2009 raised awareness of the necessity to establish the EU’s external energy policy, which initially was aimed at “strengthening the external dimension of the EU energy market” (EC 2010). In 2011, other goals were added: market integration with neighbouring states, diversification of supply sources and routes and partnerships with external energy suppliers (EC 2011). The annexation of Crimea and the Energy Union’s creation were two key factors promoting the revival of the EU’s external energy policy, considered now the “external dimension of the Energy Union” (Council of
EU 2015). Based on the analysis of policy and soft legal documents and official data, this study (i) provides an assessment of the conceptualization of the EU’s energy (in)security; and (ii) determines that the security of supply, along with the need for diversification of energy sources and routes are key-elements which shape the conceptualization of the EU’s energy security, due in part to some Member States’ overreliance on Russian energy supplies and also the incomplete Internal Energy Market of the EU. In a second step, the paper analyses how the development of the EU’s external energy policy revolves around the security of supply, diversification of energy sources and routes and how the EU has engaged with its neighbouring energy producer- and transit countries. The focus is placed on transit countries Turkey and Ukraine and producer countries Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. Finally, the paper investigates (i) the development of the EU’s foreign policy instruments, namely the strategic energy partnerships, dialogues, bilateral and multilateral diplomatic initiatives, and the extension of the acquis communautaire established in the energy cooperation with these four countries; and (ii) the main challenges that lie ahead for the EU’s energy cooperation with the four. The study will demonstrate that security of supply and diversification of energy sources and routes, along with EU’s energy cooperation with Ukraine, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan play a significant part in the shaping of the EU’s external energy
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