Energy in the EU (as seen from Natolin)

By Francis Masson | 1 December 2017


On 24th November, the European Commission released the “Third Report on the State of the Energy Union, the latest result of a regular self-assessment and communication exercise on the European Union’s institutions’ and the Member States’ progresses in integrating common energy policies at a supranational level.

Energy is everything. It is everywhere. As a political issue, it touches upon every aspect of the citizen’s life. It is one of the most existential policy issues for a state. It matters for households, for the industry, for the climate and the environment. Energy policy - like Defence policy - is regarded as one of the most sensible domains of any state because it is fundamentally linked with vital security: no leader can afford the political cost of a failed energy policy. A blackout of electricity or a shortening of gas supply will affect households directly. This will then negatively influence their electoral behaviour.

Energy resources (mostly oil and gas) are among the most traded goods on the world market. Moreover, the idea of a global competition for resources is part of the general public views on energy issues. Indeed, energy is strategic for all economic activity. Energy and environment, as political, economic and societal issues, are intertwined. 80% of the world CO2 emissions are related to energy. At the European level, the environmental policy is more integrated than the energy one.

Energy policies have been intertwined with European integration process from the beginning on, arguable with the creation of the European Atomic Energy Community as early as 1957. Since the 2000s, the need to unify national energy policies and to overcome the fragmentation of the European energy profile has been acknowledged in light with the instability of the world energy market. 2009 has been a decisive turning point in the legislative integration process of European energy with the promulgation of the so called Third Energy Package and the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty.

Finally, energy policy has an explicit provision in the primary law of the EU (Article 194 TEU). Last but not least, energy is (one of the) key priorities of the Juncker Commission. Energy has become so vital to the European integration process that the Commission’s “Framework Strategy” of the completion of the Energy Union of 25th February 2015 introduced a notion of freedom of movement of energy, intending to extend the four freedoms guaranteed by the European Treaties.

The topic of energy embodies the sophistication of European Interdisciplinary Studies. To seize the complexity of this policy field, the observer must be sensible as much to the legal, economic and political aspects of the public debates on energy. Whose gas should we import? Through which pipeline? Should we go for the cheapest option, or for the safest in term of long term supply? Can we trust today's economic partner to be a good supplier tomorrow, when the political trust is already gone? Are we ready today to take on the political risk of a shortcut of electricity production, in order to make sure that our children’s energy mixes will be ‘’clean’’?

Those are some of many questions that experts, scholars and students raise when discussing and analysing European energy policy. In this dossier, alumni of the College of Europe Natolin’s John Maynard Keynes Promotion (2016-2017), former members of the College of Europe Energy Group, join Nouvelle Europe’s editorial team to offer fresh reflexions on very topical issues of the European Energy policy. The articles presented in this issue present a shortened version of the outcomes of the authors’ respective master theses submitted in May 2017. 

To start with, Francis Masson offers an overview of the concepts of energy security that cohabit within the European Union member state and shows why and how they are detrimental to the creation of a fully integrated Energy Union.

In the second article, Lucia Quaglia presents the state of the European markets for renewable electricity. She explains the rationales underlying the different stages of the evolution of this market, and highlights the limitations of the legislative packages and existing approaches to market integration underlying those legislations.

Going deeper into the integration of electricity markets, Ronan Haas introduces us into the “The Pentalateral Energy Forum”, a regional integration scheme meant to facilitate the linkages among the electricity markets of the Benelux countries, France and Germany (as well as Austria and Switzerland who joined the group later). He shows to which extent this genuine project is only partially in line with the political processes of creating a European Energy Union.

Last but not least, Alexandrina Robu takes us in the European Neighbourhood with a comparative study of the Moldavian and Ukrainian reforms of energy markets. In her article, she analyses how the European Union exports its own energy model towards the Energy Community partners in order to integrate them into its Energy Market.


An overview of this dossier's articles:



Credit illustrations: 

Katie Treadwell: The Natolin Palace, winter 2016

Energy quadryptique by Francis Masson