Decision 994/2012 and Beyond: Assessing the Driving Factors of Integration in the Field of External Energy Policy

Ingmar Versolmann

In the last decade the need for a common approach to the external dimension of EU energy policy became salient due to the European Union's (EU) stark dependence on energy imports. The decline in primary energy production and an increased demand has created a situation where the EU is heavily reliant on a small number of third country suppliers, which are often characterised by geopolitical instability. The dependence of the EU on imports amplifies the vulnerability of national energy markets to unpredictable changes on the global market. The development of a common energy strategy, therefore, aims to ensure competitive prices and the security of supply. However, despite efforts to further harmonise the policy area through the Energy Union, external energy policy still lacks coherence. This paper will assess the factors that led to the implementation of Decision 994/2012, an information exchange mechanism regarding energy Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) with third countries. It will gauge the challenges and shortcomings this legislation imposed. A comprehensive analysis demands the scrutiny of both the internal and external dimension of energy policy as they are intrinsically interwoven. The analysis will be situated within the historical institutionalist literature and encompass the notion of path dependence to explain policy development. It argues that 'lock ins' and the 'stickiness' of energy policy, namely decisions made at an earlier stage, hampered the effective integration of energy policy in the 2000s. However, exogenous threats and the shift of competencies on the external dimension - due to the introduction of co-decision and qualified majority voting (QMV) in the Lisbon Treaty - created an opportunity window for the Commission to take a more ambitious stance regarding further integration of the policy area.

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