The European Energy Security Strategy: Testing the Limits of Solidarity

Anna Herranz-Surrallés

Since it was included as a key threat in the 2008 Report on the Implementation of the European Security Strategy, energy security has become an ever more prominent topic in the EU security agenda. In the background of the severe gas supply crisis of January 2009 and particularly tense relations with Russia since early 2014, the EU displayed an unprecedented level of activism in this area, adopting several new strategic documents such as the European Energy Security Strategy (May 2014) and the Framework Strategy for a resilient Energy Union (February 2015). The EU thus seems to be acquiring an autonomous role in a carefully guarded domain of state sovereignty, including instruments of energy diplomacy and measures that de facto constrain member states' freedom to choose their own sources of supply. This paper aims to explain how this process came about and to what effect. To do so the paper emphasizes the role of securitizing rhetoric and use of normative arguments, such as the principles of solidarity and loyalty, in shifting the responsibility for energy security from the national to the EU level. However, the paper argues that whereas this process has led to several new coordinating institutions and landmark practices, it has also created a sovereignty surplus, a situation where both national and European actors claim the main responsibility over energy security. In this context of unclear competences and frequent overlapping sovereignty claims, the overall outcome of the EU energy security strategy is therefore marked by mixed results in practice.

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