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Research Report

Prioritization in EU Energy Policy: Energy Security First, then Energy Union

Alan Riley
Copyright Date: Jun. 1, 2015
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 16
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 2-2)

    The European Commission’s “Energy Union” Communication, published on February 25, 2015, purports to provide the European Union (EU) with a comprehensive energy strategy.¹ The Communication aims to simultaneously push forward the climate change agenda by deploying more renewables, while improving the level of energy efficiency, launching a major infrastructure program, and completing the energy single market. All of these objectives are necessary to establish a functioning, dynamic, liquid, and modern European energy market. The danger, however, is that the European Union’s key energy security risk—the supply threat from the Russian Federation and in particular the risk related to the...

  2. (pp. 2-3)

    Following the occupation and annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, then-Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, writing in the Financial Times in April 2014, called for an EU Energy Union.² He emphasized the need to tackle the EU’s substantial supply dependence, particularly with respect to the Russian Federation’s dominance of the supply of natural gas. His central proposal was that the Energy Union should operate as a single, collective purchaser for natural gas.

    From the beginning, there were considerable reservations about the viability of Tusk’s proposal.³ Although it is true that Central and Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, and Finland...

  3. (pp. 4-6)

    Tusk had good reason to raise the issue of Russian gas supply dependency. While Western Europe has slowly liberalized its energy markets over the last two decades in the face of EU liberalization rules and the threat of antitrust action, the same has not been true of Central and Eastern Europe. Until the creation of interconnectors allowing gas from Western Europe to enter Central Europe and LNG terminals coming online in Poland and Lithuania, the only source of gas for most states in the region was Gazprom. Because of the Russian Federation’s inherited Soviet pipeline networks, storage facilities, and long-term...

  4. (pp. 6-9)

    Given the significant threat posed to EU supply security from Russia, this paper argues that the European Union’s initial Energy Union measures need to first focus on addressing energy security.

    These security measures should include full compliance with the liberalizing provisions of the third energy package. The directives of the third energy package were enacted in 2009 and were supposed to have come into force in all EU member states by March 2011. But by September 2011, the Commission found that nineteen member states had failed to transpose the legislation into national law. Only accelerated legal procedures ensured that at...

  5. (pp. 10-10)

    At first glance, focusing on the natural gas issues of the most Gazprom-dependent states seems fraught with difficulty. Most member states, whether in Western or Eastern Europe, would be opposed on principle to extending the powers of the EU in the energy sector. Yet, without greater EU supervision, it is difficult to see how a genuine single market in natural gas will come into being. This argument however does not account for the effects of the Russian annexation of Crimea and invasion of parts of eastern Ukraine. Those acts, combined with an aggressive Russian hybrid campaign against the European Union...