Časopis pro politiku a mezinárodní vztahy

Global Politics

Časopis pro politiku a mezinárodní vztahy

Energy Security of the European Union

Editors of Global Politics in cooperation with International Institute of Political Science present the Symposium dedicated to the feverishly discussed issue of EU energy security. Upcoming end of the year brings our attention back to the topic of Russian gas supplies and Ukrainian energy transit policy. Moreover, this particular problem is inseparably connected to a broader issue of common EU energy policy. On the basis of these considerations and in order to encourage both scholarly and also public debate, we have asked experts from the field to share their insights and opinions. All authors have definitely brought up stimulating and valuable contributions based on their experience and expertise knowledge. In what way has Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis influenced EU-Russia relations and what further development could be expected? What necessary conditions have to be fulfilled in order to create effective common energy policy? It is our great pleasure to publish the answers of Tatiana Romanova, Andrea Figuľová, Ivo Samson, Oldřich Petržílek and Filip Černoch.

GP questions:

1) What factor do you consider to be a necessary condition for the formation of the effective common energy policy of the EU?

2) In which way did Russian-Ukrainiane gas crisis influence the EU position towards Russia? And what further development of the EU-Russia relations do you expect in the field of energetics?

Authors provided the answers during April and June 2009.


Ivo Samson

Head of the International Security Program at the Research Center of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association (Bratislava).

1) For the formation of an effective common energy policy one needs, first of all, a consensus in all 27 (currently) EU member states. In this respect, the energy policy should develop into another independent “pillar” of the EU. It is questionable whether an effective energy policy can work on the intergovernmental principle or not. Measured against the failed second pillar (CFSP-ESDP), one is very doubtful to be able to find a consensus on the policy towards, e.g., the Russian Federation (or the OPEC, or the League of Arab States, etc.) among all EU member states. The success of the project of common energy policy therefore depends on majority voting in the EU. Even if a sort of treaty (like Lisbon or other) is achieved, this will not by itself create a guarantee of a common approach in energy policy. Anyway, a “majoritization” of the EU (if not only “supranationa­lization” of the energy security pillar) seems to be the first step towards a common and effective EU energy policy. Afterwards, one will have to await the test of implementation of this new approach.

2) The Russian-Ukrainian crisis has once more demonstrated that the EU is far from having a foreign policy be it a common security and foreign policy or the coveted common energy policy. The gas crisis between Ukraine and Russia has only been a continuation of split positions of individual EU countries to a lot of other problems, which have appeared in the last months: enlargement of NATO at the Bucharest NATO Summit in 2008, Russia-Georgia war in 2008, discussion on anti-missile defense in 2008. From all these crises, Russia has appeared as preliminary winner especially due to the EU inability to assume a strong position towards the RF. The gas crisis demonstrated that the influence of Russia in the EU area is increasing.


Tatiana Romanova

Associate professor at the School of International Relations of St. Petersburg State University and a leading expert of the Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies of the High School of Economics (Moscow).

1) The question is tricky, indeed, because it is not clear what is effective, in the first place, and how you are going to measure the effectiveness. It depends on what side you are looking at the problem from. I am pretty sure that the current markets are fairly efficient for the big energy companies, be them oil, natural gas, or electricity enterprises. They also function fairly well for the majority of consumers. The Commission frequently talks about a possible decrease in prices as a demonstration of their improved efficiency. But I think it would be unlikely to happen even if all Brussels proposals were introduced. However, there is a clear need to dismantle the barriers for new entrants, to eliminate bottlenecks that exist at the borders between different member-states, and to improve market access for the renewable energy.

2) The Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute certainly played a negative role for the EU-Russian energy relations in general, and for their energy dialogue (which was launched in 2000) in particular. First of all, it has contributed to the politicization of the external energy relations in the EU. The statements, made by J. Barroso and A. Piebalgs as well as by the number of national leaders, are an excellent proof of it. That means that, in the upcoming months, any deepening of the EU-Russian energy relations is difficult to be envisaged. Moreover, those member states which are against deep partnership with Russia got an additional point to prove their position.

Secondly, January 2009 gas conflict between Moscow and Kyiv, irrespective of who is to be blamed for it, contributed to the further decrease of trust in the EU-Russian relations in general, which would, in turn, affect the negotiations on the new treaty between Russia and the European Union. The parties will certainly find it more difficult to come to advance ambitious proposals in the upcoming months.


Filip Černoch

Research fellow at the International Institute of Political Science and head of the Azerbaijani-Caspic Studies Centre of Masaryk University, Brno.

1) In my point of view, there are two rather different and almost separately emerging ’common energy policies of the EU’ to be discussed. The first one concerns the EU external energy relations, especially negotiating with the suppliers. It’s the perception of external threat that could solely force the national governments to hand over their powers to the supranational EU authorities. On the other hand, there is something like the ’internal common energy policy of the EU’. And it has been slowly but steadily evolving – liberalization of the common market with gas and electricity, ownership unbundling of energy monopolies, competition and environmental rules – these all show the continuing process of communitarization of this issue. With the strengthening of the European Commission, this policy area is also developing, however it needs more time..

2) I would like to underline one very important point resulting from this crisis. For the first time, European politicians – and perhaps also a part of the public – have started to perceive the problem of interrupted gas supplies not as a fault of Russia or Ukraine which has been solved and therefore cannot occur again. They see it as a structural problem of our roughly 46% gas dependency on one strong supplier which will probably bring complications over and over again. And this is the right opinion; Europe simply cannot be a hostage and in the same time a judge of the repeated disputes between Russia and Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, Russia and Georgia etc. Firstly, we have to secure our supplies and then we could solve, I am afraid that mostly politically motivated, problems of Russia and its neighbors.


Andrea Figuľová

Political analyst at the Institute of European studies and International relations of Comenius University, Bratislava.

1) As the questions say, it has to be common. Currently it is very hard – as we can see the examples of all inappropriate acts – like January gas crisis, failed Czech presidency that could have improved the status of energy policy within EU, selling or rather buying assets of energy companies in Europe by one energy player (Baumgartner, Serbia) etc. And it should also be more concerned about the policy acts and not lobbyist company interest. So the most necessary condition should be acting together – as partners – as countries within the European Union and not as separate individuals securing the energy supplies for their citizens neither as business corporations. There are different instruments and countries are slowly starting to act together – like e.g. in case of Nabucco. But it is still not enough.

2) I am looking forward to see the reality of Russian activity to present and put through the global position “new rules on energy cooperation” as Mr. Medveded announced in Helsinki in late April. May we say that Russia is trying to make some developments in this relationship? Strategic partnership of two, let’s say competing entities, is very hard to be built. And especially in the field where till now Russia feels “safe and sound”. However, EU is more or less perceived as a temporary and weak actor in Russia; even the gas crisis is according to some scholars helping to disorganize EU in the eyes of Russian decision-makers. Constructive European energy policy should be arranged within the European Neighborhood Policy and especially with focus on the EU Eastern policy.


Oldřich Petržílka

Senior manager at the Czech Gas Union and representative of Czech Republic at the International Gas Union.

1) Most important condition to be met to achieve the agreement on the common energy policy of the EU is to make it really common. However, latest development doesn’t demonstrate any such tendencies. The interest of ‘old’ member states (EU-15) and new members do not overlap. This is related to different way of securing gas supplies to the EU-15. Nevertheless, in this case the Czech Republic is an exemption among the new member states as it has diversified its gas supplies since 1997. Moreover, this fact has been proven by so-called ‘gas crisis’ in January 2009 which has not at all hit the Czech Republic. Good portfolio of gas resources of the old member states which take gas from Russia, Norway, Algeria and use also LNG and their own production (even if this is constantly declining) is in a strong contrast with one hundred (or almost) percent dependency of Slovakia or Balkan countries on Russian gas supplies. So far, this discrepancy doesn’t seem to be considerably let alone collectively addressed. That’s why the steps of the Czech presidency such as the South Corridor or Nabucco project negotiations should be perceived as a significant success.

Another problem is also an extremely slow decision-making procedure on the EU level. The removal of these disaccords and the acceleration of the administration processes are therefore crucial to achieve the agreement on the common EU energy policy.

2) Ukrainian gas crisis has strengthened the image of gas companies in the countries able to handle the crisis without problems, such as the Czech Republic. On the contrary, it has also damaged the image of natural gas and unjustly labeled it as ‘something unreliable’. These statements are not contradictory; they are also being proven by opinion polls. To sum up, on the one hand, EU should develop stronger pressure on Ukraine, which in turn should, if it wants to approach the EU, respect the agreements and follow European principles. On the other hand, EU should avoid bilateral preferential relations with Russia and finally move towards proclaimed ‘one-voice-speaking‘.

Inconsistency within the ties between EU (or more specifically between particular EU member states) and Russia is in my opinion the biggest threat to the negotiation position of the European Union.


Autor je studentem politologie a mezinárodních vztahů na Masarykově univerzitě a výkonným redaktorem Global Politics.

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Petr Ocelík
1. 11. 2009