Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Politics

Improvements in the Development of a Common European Energy Policy in the Years 2007-2011

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Politics

Improvements in the Development of a Common European Energy Policy in the Years 2007-2011

Article excerpt

Energy is a fundamental good for all countries. How is it possible to secure energy supply? What are the energy sources to choose from? How is it possible to optimize resources' use? How is it possible to reduce the environmental impact of energy exploitation? How is it possible to reduce energy costs? The answers to these questions are influenced by economic and political reasons. Moreover, EU Member States have another question to answer: what are the advantages from highly-integrated energy policies? The aim of this article is to describe the actions the European Commission has been taken to foster energy integration since 2007, by comparing the objectives and the results achieved. It will emerge that common action in the field of energy can provide Member States with convenient answers both from an economic and a political perspective. Despite not having achieved all objectives, the EU seems to have chosen the right path.

Key words: Common Energy Policy, Energy Choices, European Union, European Integration, Internal Market.


Within the European Union the debate on increasing the coordination and on a full integration of national energy policies has been conducted since the sixties. It is difficult to give a clear definition of what a common European energy policy is, but I find that a good one was given by D'haeseleer in article published in 2006:

"A Common European Energy Policy should thus be the road map for implementation of the mission concretized by the strategic goals or objectives set by the EU authorities towards the sort of energy future desired for the Union (i.e., to make the energy vision of the EU become a reality). A CEEP must define measures for implementation, and as such, it must provide 'constraints or boundary conditions', on the one hand, and 'incentive', on the other hand, to satisfy the set strategic goals and objectives (as well as how to measure their achievement at EU and MS level)".

Priorities have often changed as well as the importance attached by stakeholders, first of all Member States, to single aspects of energy integration. In the last thirty years, three clear and shared priorities have been outlined:

1. enabling Member States to secure their supply at a reasonable low price;

2. fostering the integration of a common market for energy and energy infrastructures;

3. tackling climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency and developing alternative energy sources.

These priorities have been described in the energy strategy brought forward by the European Commission (from now on: Commission) in 2007. The present article aims at analysing the expected results, to find out what has been achieved in the last four years. Since a new proposal for a European energy strategy was published in September 2011, similarities and differences between the two proposals will be explained, to understand if and what has been done to reach the above-mentioned objectives and if the new strategy is a new version of the previous one. The economic and financial crisis will be considered as well, because it has changed Member States' priorities regarding energy issues and has threatening European solidarity since its onset in 2008. Therefore, from a methodological point of view, this article is based on a comparison between the above mentioned strategies. Also previous published analysis of the attempts to develop a common and coordinated action in the energy sector have been taken into account, both for the past (e.g. Daintith and Hancher's analysis ) and the present situation (e.g. Behrens and Egenhofer's analysis6).


The Commission illustrated its vision of the energy sector in the Green Paper on energy published in 2006 and in the Energy Package published in 2007, which also contains the Communication An Energy Policy for Europe presenting the key objectives based on quantitative data. …

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