EU Energy Union: A New Name for Old Aims?

Francesca Batzella

The Energy Union is the latest development in the EU energy policy. It can be described as an overarching framework designed to achieve more secure, affordable and sustainable energy. The initiative started with a proposal from the European Commission on February 2015 and continued with the first-ever Communication on the State of the Energy Union on November 2015. 2016, instead, is expected to be the so-called "year of delivery" during which concrete legislative proposals are expected to be issued to achieve the objectives of the Energy Union. The aim of this paper is threefold. Firstly, it investigates whether and to what extent the Energy Union constitutes a change or a continuation in terms of policy goals, dynamics and instruments. It suggests that while some elements - such as the new framing and the team behind the Energy Union - seems to suggest that the Energy Union is a novelty, other elements - such as the emphasis on the completion of the Internal Energy Market - seems to suggest that the Energy Union is largely a continuation of previous initiatives. Secondly, the paper aims to contribute to the understanding of the role of the Commission in the Energy Union, investigating which concepts and theoretical approaches might best explain its action. It suggests that public policy and delegation theory might offers some useful insights to the theorising on the Commission. Finally, the paper speculates on some of the contentious issues that might emerge during the implementation of the Energy Union such as Intergovernmental agreements (IGAs), purchasing of gas through a single buyer, and Nordstream. In doing so the paper also highlights promising insights for future research. The paper builds on official documents, grey literature and expert interviews.

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