Divergent Energy Securitisation in the European Union

Andrew Judge, Tomas Maltby

The question of how to ensure adequate levels of energy security has been at the heart of EU energy policy debates over the past decade. This re-emergence of energy security would appear to be ripe for analysis as a process of securitisation. However, existing studies have tended to focus on developments at the EU level without considering the dynamics of how energy securitisation is playing out at the national levels. The focus of this work is on the question of why energy securitisation at the EU level has not resulted in radical policy changes. In this article we argue that existing analyses are not able to address this question because they are constrained by both their empirical focus on EU policy discourse and their use of the Copenhagen School's theory of securitisation which is ill-suited for examining the securitisation of energy issues. We substantiate this argument by examining how securitisation dynamics have played out in three Member States in the 21st century - Germany, Poland and the UK - specifically in the case of gas supplies. Utilising insights from the sociological wing of securitisation theory, we demonstrate that the extent and form of securitisation differs substantially between these Member States due to the shaping role of contextually specific path-dependencies such as pre-existing governance arrangements and the geography of energy supply and use. These contextual factors place limits on the development of a truly intersubjective understanding of energy security at the EU level which is a prerequisite for substantial policy integration in the future. The absence of a common understanding of what energy security means is likely to remain a barrier to the development of a common energy policy, or a comprehensive European Energy Union.





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