The European Union's Quest for Energy Policy: A Geo-Economic Approach

By Codoban, Alin | Romanian Journal of European Affairs, September 2011 | Go to article overview
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The European Union's Quest for Energy Policy: A Geo-Economic Approach


Codoban, Alin, Romanian Journal of European Affairs


Abstract:

The European Union's external energy policy architecture is very important for further energy security and economic development. European normative power on its neighbours represents the most efficient way of integrating neighbouring energy markets, with the EU's emerging internal market and, in perspective, through economic interdependence and complementarities, there are chances of creating an European geo-energy space. EU's tools for shaping the geo-energy space are becoming more effective in an extended European economic area that would allow it to act as the main actor in a multilateral interconnected system of energy producer and transit countries. The result of the paper is materialized in a new paradigm for EU's external energy policy, which can provide future security of supply through market institutions and an active economic diplomacy in the resource energy countries.

Keywords: European geo-energy space, energy markets, regulatory framework.

JEL: F15, F52, N74

1. Introduction

During the last decade, energy policy and implicitly energy security have been on the European Union's (EU) top agenda, representing a topic that has often divided member states and has shown particular interests from within. The supply of natural gas and mostly the Union's relations with Russia are the issues to which is difficult to find a common approach. Shaping and (re)defining energy policy in the above mentioned context, which has traditionally been seen as a highly nationalized and politicized matter, represents a big test to the Union's future and might become the following next triumph or undesired failure.

It is in that context that the paper seeks to identify the characteristics of a potential new paradigm for the EU's energy policy, with respect to its main goal to provide security of energy supply (European Commission, 2001), through a common economic and geopolitical approach of the issue. In order to do so, we will make use of the term of geo-energy space (Mañé-Estrada, 2006), which is able to suggest not only the strategic importance of energy resources, but also their scarcity and the need of procuring them from other geographical spaces. Besides Mañé-Estrada (2006), the concept of a pan-European geo-energy space is not used by other authors in the literature, which makes our work more difficult. Nevertheless, the similar term of (pan)European Energy Community (European Commission, 2006; Andoura et al., 2010) is mentioned in the documents of the Commission, as well as in a recent study of the think-thank Notre Europe, chaired by Jacques Delors, the former president of the European Commission. However, the concept that we are intending to make use of geo-energy space), is defined as "a geographical area with a governance structure (emphasis original)" (Mañé-Estrada, 2006), which requests an institutionalised form of cooperation between the major partners that are engaged in such a space. The second term has two meanings, if the Commission defines it as a way of integrating E U 's energy markets with those of its neighbours into a common regulatory space (European Commission, 2006), the other meaning is that of an European energy regulatory space governed by credible institutions, capable of delivering effective solutions on the basis of "democratic legitimacy" and of "exporting European regulatory norms in a credible and convincing way to the Union's partners on the international scene" (Andoura et al., 2010). The two meanings of the European Energy Community are not externally oriented, but rather internally, being ideally "placed under the present Union structure and rely on the institutional machinery of the Union" (Andoura et al., 2010).

In our opinion, the European geo-energy space should retain the institutionalised cooperation, but should use it into a broader framework in which the energy is only an element of the larger common economic space that is to be build around the European Union as the main actor of a certain form of economic integration on the European continent.

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