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Historical Institutionalism and the Evolution of the EU’s Energy Policy

Ioana Lungu

Even though energy was the main focus of two of the initial treaties of what we now call the European Union, as times changed and oil and gas became primary resources, states proved to be reluctant in allowing EU institutions to get involved in areas of national interest and the EU’s institutional setup was not updated to deal with this evolution. As such, because it was not one of the main areas of integration, energy policy attracted little scholarly attention among those interested in European Studies. Nevertheless, in the last decade we have witnessed an increased interest in energy policy issues, both from academics and politicians. In 2000s especially, at the same time as the EU decided in favor of expanding its territory towards the east, important steps have been taken with the aim of establishing a common framework in the field of energy, one of the biggest steps being the official recognition as a policy with the introduction of a chapter on energy in the Lisbon Treaty. This paper aims at providing a theoretical framework to assess the impact of the 2004 and 2007 eastern enlargement on the evolution on the EU’s energy policy. In this sense, it puts forward a historical institutionalist approach. While exploring the interaction between institutions and preferences, a number of core concepts like unintended consequences, learning, path dependency and critical junctures will be used.

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