In this article I will argue that the lack of a common understanding of energy security between Member States leads to different priorities for external energy relations. It follows that the obstacle for the EU in pursuing a common external energy policy is the internal separation between the Member States that are ready to formulate a collective approach to external energy relations and those that differ from the European policies in this regard Commission have distanced. This argument is structured as follows. First of all, I would like to argue that the EU concept of energy security does not include the individual understanding of each Member State, which depends on the different national energy specificities. These peculiarities can be recognized by the difference in the diversification of the suppliers in connection with the difference in the energy mix. Then I will argue that the difference in reliance on Russia for natural gas between Member States leads to different levels of susceptibility to supply shocks and political leverage. From a geopolitical perspective, this vulnerability manifests the securitization of dependency on a supplier as a perceived threat to national security. Here I argue that the effectiveness of the perceived threat is undermined by: (i) economic interdependence with Russia; (ii) the integration of the EU energy market; (iii) because there has been no permanent disturbance. Nevertheless, there is a difference between the Member States in relation to Russia, which I will show by contrasting Germany and Poland in relation to bilateral agreements with Russia. I will argue that these disparate treaties between states and the Nord Stream 2 project undermined the EU’s cohesion in external energy relations. This is an example of the tension between the Member States who want to maintain their energy sovereignty, with Germany as a whole, and those who want to Europeanise external energy relations, which I illustrated with Poland. Finally, in connection with the Nord Stream 2 project, I would like to argue that a common external energy policy would be beneficial for transatlantic relations.
First, the EU identifies the following three partially overlapping concerns that need to be met in order to be secure about energy: security of supply at a relatively low price, an efficient energy market and fair competition, and sustainable resources and production (Aalto and Temel, 2014 : 761). Energy security was at the top of the European Union’s agenda, as almost all processes in the EU economy require energy resources and ensuring the availability of these resources is therefore a national security viability for the member states (Ciută, 2010). Foreign energy policy is still dominated by the sovereignty of the member states, which limits the coordination of a common approach in external energy relations (Aalto and Temel, 2014: 759). Despite repeated efforts by the European Commission and Parliament to support an external energy policy that goes beyond competitive and efficient market policy, no common approach has been reached in external energy relations (Wigell and Vihma, 2016; Commission of the European Communities, 2006) : 14). In addition, given the EU’s position as a net exporter, security of supply is the main concern of EU external relations in the energy sector, which means that energy imports were higher than primary production (e.g. 58.2% in 2018) (Eurostat, 2020a) . . In this context, it depends primarily on the extent to which a state has diversified its suppliers and (ii) its energy mix. For the former, a small number of suppliers represents a greater dependency on certain suppliers, which in turn leads to a susceptibility to disruptions and determines the extent to which the supplier has political influence on the company in view of the impending sanctions either by suspending deliveries or by threatening sanctions Importer has price increase. The latter overlaps with the former. A diverse energy mix makes a state less susceptible to disruptions and less dependent on its suppliers. These conditions are different for each member state as some states have diversified their suppliers and their energy mix so that states will not experience disruption if a single supplier stops exporting. This, as I shall explain, would have a significant impact on other Member States that have not sought the diversification of which Poland is an example. The energy mix between Member States is also different, with France, for example, relying on nuclear power for 42 percent of its energy, while Poland (47%) and Estonia (72%) still rely heavily on solid fossil fuels (European Commission, 2020)) . And there is no single concept of energy security for these differences that encompasses the various energy security problems that Member States face and that they prioritize.
The EU will be increasingly concerned about the lack of supplier diversification in some Member States. For natural gas, Member States are heavily dependent on imports from a small group of suppliers. since natural gas makes up a quarter of the EU energy mix, for which 40% is imported from Russia (European Commission, 2020). Reliance on Russia for gas will deepen as natural gas production in the EU has declined, as domestic production in the UK and the Netherlands has declined and, as a result, imported natural gas is likely to account for 80 percent of consumption by 2030 (Eurostat, 2020b). Some Member States are already fully dependent on Russia, including Lithuania, Estonia, Finland and Bulgaria (European Parliament, 2020: 13). In the case of natural gas, the dependency on suppliers is more consolidated. This is because, unlike oil, petroleum products and solid fossil fuels, for which the global market is relatively competitive and resources can be moved around the world in more flexible and less complicated ways, via expensive and unstoppable pipelines via transit countries such as z as Ukraine (Aalto and Temel, 2014: 759). This infrastructure leads to a permanent dependence on Russia as the main exporter of natural gas to the European Union. The underlying vulnerability became particularly evident when, in 2006 and 2009, Russian disputes with Ukraine led to standstills in the dependent Central and Eastern European states that did not have sufficient energy supplies. For example Hungary with 40 percent less and Austria and Romania with 33 percent less, France with 25 to 30 percent less and Poland with 14 percent (Maltby, 2013: 438). The growing dependency on a single supplier therefore means that some Member States are becoming increasingly vulnerable to supply shocks, while other Member States, particularly the northern and western Member States that have diversified their energy imports, will remain significantly less vulnerable (European Parliament, 2020: 6th ). The states that view their dependency as a significant weapon of vulnerability use Russian gas as an external threat to their national security (Gawlik, 2018: 234). For example, the Polish government said (2007) it was “the greatest external threat” to their security.
The securitization of dependence on Russia as a threat to national security is based on the growing notion that energy is a source of international power. This is a realistically inspired geopolitical approach that regards energy as a source of conflict due to its scarcity (Kuzemko et al., 2016: 150; Wilson, 2019: 114). However, it undermines the effectiveness of the perceived weapon as it reduces reliance on Russian gas and susceptibility to interference in the following three ways (Henderson, 2016). First, there is a strong economic dependency of Russia on energy exports to the EU. For example, fossil fuels account for almost half of their federal budget revenue, and the EU is a major export destination (European Parliament, 2020: 13). In energy relations, Russia strives for security of demand and thus shares a mutual dependency with the EU (Casier, 2011: 500; Kirchner and Berk, 2010: 864). Second, in response to Gazprom’s abuse of its dominant position in the European gas markets, the EU energy market has become more integrated so that member states can now trade Russian gas with one another (European Parliament, 2020: 13). This robs Moscow of the ability to force or sanction individual states by sharply increasing prices or restricting gas exports to a single country. In this way, Russia can no longer sanction individual states without interrupting supplies to the EU as a whole, as this would be an irrational step in view of the above-mentioned economic dependence on the EU. Third, there have been no permanent disruptions to gas supplies since the oil crisis in the 1970s, indicating that Russia has been a reliable gas supplier for at least some member states (European Parliament, 2020: 22). Another argument that could be used to reduce the build-up of an existential threat is that renewable energy and liquefied natural gas (LNP) could replace natural gas imports from Russia. While the share of renewable energies in the EU’s energy mix is increasing, imported gas is very likely to remain the key in the mix, and at the same time LNG is not yet efficient enough to replace large quantities (European Parliament, 2020: 7). While this could lead to a reduction in dependency in the long term, it will not significantly reduce susceptibility in the short or medium term. Overall, the view that Russia poses an existential threat to the national security of the member states is not generally accepted for these reasons. This brings us to the different bilateral agreements between the individual member states and Russia, which differ particularly between Germany and Poland and which show the different energy relations with Russia.
Poland has suffered from disadvantageous energy gas contracts with Gazprom because, for example, the member state had to pay USD 526 per 1,000 cubic meters in 2013, compared to USD 379.30 that Germany paid for the same amount in the same year (Wigell and Vihma, 2016: 516)). The difference cannot be explained by the transport costs, but by the different bilateral gas agreements between Russia and each member state (Wigell and Vihma, 2016: 616). Germany, which has relatively more advantageous agreements with Russia, views Gazprom as a reliable supplier and therefore does not view an increased reliance on its natural gas as an existential threat to its national security. For example, Germany allowed the five largest energy companies in Europe to build a new pipeline, Nord Stream 2, which transports gas directly from Russia to Germany (Aalto and Temel, 2014: 764). This suggests that Germany plans for Russia to remain an important supplier in the future. Poland, on the other hand, does not see Russia as a reliable supplier, but as a threat and therefore works tirelessly for the EU’s energy solidarity and vigorously advocates the Europeanization of energy security (Roth, 2011: 603). This was in turn counteracted by Germany, which does not want to centralize an approach in external energy relations and wants to deviate from its bilateral agreements (Roth, 2011: 614). Wigell and Vihma (2016: 616) argue that member states that have more favorable gas deals have distanced themselves from the European Commission’s efforts to take a strong stance in external relations with Russia. In addition, Poland is concerned about losing the political clout over Russia that its position as a transit country has given them because they are more vulnerable to sanctions as the Nord Stream 2 project could allow Gazprom to cut off gas supplies to Poland without to stop supplying Germany (Roth, 2011: 608). This is a problem that most of the Eastern European Member States face on the transit routes. By using different bilateral agreements, Russia weakens the EU’s cohesion in external energy relations (Wigell and Vihma, 2016: 617). In this regard, the Nord Stream 2 project illustrates the separation between member states that on the one hand want individual bilateral agreements, and central and eastern states, for example Poland, that on the other hand want a unified attitude and solidarity (Fischer and Geden, 2015): 2).
Concern from the Nord Stream 2 project about the weakening of Poland’s position and the perceived threat is not the only one. There is also concern about the weakening of the EU’s ability to take a strong unified stance towards Russia outside of the energy sector (Roth, 2011: 609). By deepening the dependency on Russia with Nord Stream 2, cohesion at EU level will probably be restricted in order to sanction Russia, as Russia has more influence on Germany due to the fixed natural gas supply. For this reason, the Nord Stream 2 project created tension in EU-US relations as the US Congress described the project as a “drastic step backwards for European energy security and the interests of the United States” and called on the EU to cancel the project (US Government) Publishing Office, 2018, cited in Schoen and Krijger, 2019: 28). It would therefore be beneficial for the EU’s transatlantic relationship to have a strong coherent stance on external relations. However, this concern can be suppressed as all member states have agreed on a unified stance on sanctions against Russia (Wigell and Vihma, 2016: 19). In this regard, the EU’s external cohesion is strong and shows the EU’s ability to take a coherent stance on external relations. Nevertheless, according to the Green Paper of the Commission of the European Communities (2006: 14), the EU still does not speak with a “single voice” in external energy relations. The Green Paper points out that a “single voice” would strengthen the EU’s ability to integrate its energy objectives in relations with third countries and on bilateral or multilateral platforms (Commission of the European Communities, 2006: 14). In particular, this would help the EU promote an international agreement on energy efficiency in forums such as the United Nations, the Internal Energy Agency and the Group of Eight. Hence there are incentives for a coordinated approach, but the tension between national energy sovereignty and intra-European solidarity in relation to external energy relations remains an obstacle to the implementation of such an approach by the EU. The extent to which these goals could promote cooperation at EU level is beyond the scope of this article, but would be an interesting further topic.
In conclusion, I argued that the main obstacle for the EU in pursuing a common external energy policy is the internal separation between Member States that either want to maintain their national energy sovereignty and avoid a unified position in external relations, and those that want to do so for them Europeanization of energy security. In this essay, I have illustrated this with Germany and Poland, respectively. Firstly, I have argued that the EU’s overarching approach to energy security does not apply to the different issues and priorities of the Member States because, when combined with the different bilateral agreements, they have different mixes of energy and suppliers. After that, I argued that national energy specificities and differences in dependence on Russia lead to a difference in susceptibility to disruption. Below, I have argued that this vulnerability underlies the extent to which dependence on Russia is deeply rooted. In response, I raised objections to the effectiveness of the theoretical threat of dependency, which in turn has shown that the legal view is not widely held among Member States. I then countered this view with the difference in bilateral agreements between the Member States by illustrating the contrast between the gas contracts with Russia and the Nord Stream 2 project. This showed the division between Germany, which wants to maintain its individual bilateral agreements with Russia, and Poland, which wants a unified attitude and solidarity. Finally, in relation to the Nord Stream 2 project, I argued that a strong EU stance in external energy relations would be beneficial to transatlantic relations, and I have suggested that another incentive for a strong stance is the ability to Promoting energy Promoting efficiency in international agreements, which would be an interesting follow-up topic. All in all, this leads me to the conclusion that the tension between national energy sovereignty and intra-European solidarity shows the different priorities of the Member States which constitute the obstacle to pursuing a common external energy policy.
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