Academic journal article Review of European Studies

The Impact of the EU Energy Policy on Member States' Legal Orders: State of Art and Perspectives of Renewable Energy in Italy and Great Britain

Academic journal article Review of European Studies

The Impact of the EU Energy Policy on Member States' Legal Orders: State of Art and Perspectives of Renewable Energy in Italy and Great Britain

Article excerpt

Abstract

Recently, the European Union has adopted the "Climate and Energy Packet" (Directives 2009/28/EC, 2009/29/EC, 2009/31/EC) and the "Third Energy Packet" (Directives 2009/72/EC, 2009/72/EC, 2009/92/EC), aimed to create a whole competitive energy market, based on both the principle of perfect competition and that of high environmental sustainability. The environment, in fact, has become one of the elements that sensibly influence the EU policy, which for some time seems to have decisively shifted towards pursuing green economy objectives.

However, moving from the assumption that the effectiveness of the European legislation can be tested just when it is transposed in the Member States' legal orders, the article analyzes how Italy and Great Britain have complied with the above mentioned Directives. In so doing, it gives account of both the state of art and perspectives of the renewable energy policies in those Countries, looking for convergences and divergences, and concludes that sometimes the effective fulfilment of the European tasks could require, above all, a shift of perspective by Member States.

Keywords: renewable energy, European Union, "Climate and Energy Packet", "Third Energy Packet", sustainable development

1. The Role of "Energy" in the EU Law System

When in September 1946, talking to students of the University of Zurich, Winston Churchill highlighted the need "to build the United States of Europe...." (Note 1), he certainly also referred to the necessity to create a partnership in the energy sector (Note 2). The latter, in fact, has always played a substantial role in the Old Continent's economy, thus having a considerable impact on the dynamics between Member States and constituting a relevant issue in the ambit of international relations (Note 3).

Since the beginnings, Europe devoted two treaties to energy, the one founding the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), in 1951, and the one founding the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM), in 1957 (Note 4). In contrast, nothing was established with regards to energy in the EEC Treaty "neither from the perspective of market liberalization, nor with reference to the specific competences of the Community institutions" (Note 5).

Even though these latter - first based on the Article 235 TEEC [today Article 352 of TFEU] (Note 6) then as provided by Articles 174 - 176 TEEC [today Articles 191 - 193 TFEU] (Note 7) - have managed to carry out meaningful actions with this regard since the early 1970s, it was necessary to wait for the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty before energy was explicitly referred to as a sector of competence of the Community (Note 8). However, it was only with the Lisbon Treaty that the normative basis for the intervention of the European institutions in this matter became more solid (Note 9), thanks to both the introduction of energy amongst the subjects of concurrent competence ex Article 4 TFEU (Note 10) and the establishment - always in TFEU - of an ad hoc title (Note 11), that is "Energy".

Therefore, nowadays the European institutions are adopting normative acts in the energy sector on the basis of the above mentioned Articles of the TFEU, aimed to the will of creating a uniform legal framework among Member States as far as management, quality and prices of the gas and energy services are concerned (Note 12). This is also trae for renewable energies, to which - for several years - Europe has devoted a great attention, as they are considered like a step to reach the goal of a sustainable development (Note 13).

Nevertheless, the effective fulfilment of such a task depends also on the Member States' inclination to meet the standards settled at EU level (Note 14). Thus, the present article is aimed to analyze how some of the most recent normative acts, adopted by the European institutions in the renewable energy field, have been performed by Member States. More specifically, the article compares the Italian and the British way to cope with the European requirements and by the way it gives account of both state of art and perspectives of the renewable energy policies in those Countries. …

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