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ZEI Discussion Paper C 241/2017

Robert Stüwe: EU External Energy Policy in Natural Gas: A Case of Neofunctionalist Integration?

ZEI Discussion Paper C 241/2017

The energy policy of the European Commission has deepened integration of EU natural gas matters. Energy cooperation at EU level and policy mechanisms for cooperation with third countries are harmonized to a large extent. The author concludes that integration strategies of the EU Commission follow the spillover-logic as set out by the theory of Neofunctionalism - a concept first developed by Ernst Bernard Haas to explain the post-war creation of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) as peace-preserving institutions. According to this theory, integration in one sector creates further integration in related policy sectors out of inherent necessity. The EU Commission has used spillover-strategies in the EU-Russia Energy Dialogue, in the Trilateral Gas Talks, in the Energy Community and in major pipeline projects such as the "Southern Gas Corridor". These platforms offer opportunity structures for supranational action which enable the realization of the "Energy Union". Intergovernmental backlashes ("Spillback-Effect") as observed in the 'gas crises' of 2006 and 2009 as well as the contractual state-to-state reality of Intergovernmental Gas Delivery Agreements present the most significant obstacles for a coherent EU external energy policy in natural gas.

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