Beyond the regulatory state: rethinking energy security governance and politics in the European Union

Abstract

The regulatory state model has traditionally been used to analyse the process of integrating the European energy sector, including the sensitive area of security of gas supply. This article argues that, due to recent innovations, this conceptualisation has become increasingly problematic and cannot provide an accurate picture of the current governance and politics of European energy security. This article applies the catalytic state model to the EU and contrasts it with the regulatory state approach. The catalytic state describes a peculiar pattern of governance which combines—rather than resolves—the tensions between market-centred and state-centred approaches and supranational and national views on EU energy security. This article also illustrates how this stylised form of state can be used to better frame the guiding principles, strategies and tools that are currently emerging as EU institutions address the issue of security of gas supply.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Notes

  1. 1.

    This article focuses on security of gas supply, which is a key component of the EU’s energy security strategy, which also includes measures in the areas of renewables and energy efficiency aimed to reduce the EU’s energy dependency (e.g. EC 2014, 2015). These measures are part of the EU’s climate change policy. Efforts to achieve mitigation and sustainability objectives have also contributed to challenging the market paradigm in the EU’s energy governance (e.g. Helm 2005; Kuzemko 2014).

  2. 2.

    The model of catalytic state—like the model of regulatory state—can be applied to both the national and EU level of government. In a series of previous works, I have applied the catalytic state model to member states at the national level (Prontera 2017, 2018a, b). In this article, I apply this model at the EU level instead by examining the EU as ‘an international state’ (Caporaso 1996: 33).

  3. 3.

    For a discussion of the concept of guiding principles and its use in the analysis of important ideational elements of energy governance, see Sovacool and Sidorstov (2013).

  4. 4.

    The partner state model is derived from Andersen (1993). The UK is an exception; its gas market has long differed from that of continental Europe and is not considered in this article.

  5. 5.

    At first glance, some of the differences sketched here between the regulatory state and the catalytic state in the area of domestic governance might seem to recall the ‘new public management (NPM) versus governance’ debate in public administration (on this debate, see Klijn 2012), with NPM practices associated with the regulatory state model and its market approach and the governance perspective, with its focus on horizontal coordination, closer to the catalytic state. However, neither perspective is fully capable of addressing the differences between these two forms of state in the energy security realm. These perspectives have been mainly applied to the national (or EU) context of public administration, with a focus on services provision (especially integrated services) and delivery. However, this focus is too narrow to cover the international and foreign policy dimension of both the regulatory state model, when it is extended to include its ‘external’ face, and the catalytic state, with its networked patterns of diplomacy. That is to say, the components of energy diplomacy and government–company relations fall outside the NPM versus governance debate. In particular, when considering these elements, NPM’s focus on, for example, agentification, intraorganisational dynamics, contracting out, performance indicators, auditing and control is somehow misleading. Indeed, as anticipated, scholars adopting the lens of the regulatory state model have drawn on the literature on EU external governance to cope with the international dimensions of the regulatory state in the European energy sector (e.g. Goldthau and Sitter 2015; Herranz-Surrallés 2015). This exposes another problem of the NPM versus governance debate: the fact that this debate is possible only if we assume a very narrow and ‘restricted’ definition of governance (Klijn 2012), which is, however, very problematic when we move outside the public administration and public management literature (see also Agranoff and McGuire 2001).

  6. 6.

    The North–South gas corridor, from the Norwegian and North Seas to the European continent, is not considered because it does not pose risks to security of supply. Norway–EU energy relations are regulated under the EEA framework. Under this framework, Norway functions much like an EU member state in many ways (Talus 2013: 232).

  7. 7.

    Although an ‘EU status’ was granted to the Nord Stream, this project was heavily contested by some new member states in Eastern Europe, especially the Baltic states and Poland (many concerns were also expressed by the Ukraine and the USA).

  8. 8.

    See ‘EIB, EBRD and IFC start appraisal of Nabucco pipeline’, 6 September 2010, available at: http://www.eib.org/en/infocentre/press/releases/all/2010/2010-142-eib-ebrd-and-ifc-start-appraisal-of-nabucco-pipeline.htm (accessed 12 January 2019).

  9. 9.

    Declaration of the European Commission Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič, available at: https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/news/southern-gas-corridor-vice-president-%C5%A1ef%C4%8Dovi%C4%8D-attended-ministerial-meeting-baku (accessed 28 December 2018).

  10. 10.

    See, for example, the letter of support sent in July 2017 by the European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and the Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete to the EIB’s president, available at: https://www.scribd.com/document/365626132/Letter-on-Southern-Gas-Corridor#fullscreen&from_embed (accessed 18 October 2018).

  11. 11.

    Georgia and Turkey are involved in the SGC through the SCP and TANAP pipelines. These pipelines are the first sections of the SGC and bring natural gas to the TAP at the Turkish–Greek border. Bulgaria is involved in the project through the IGB pipeline, which should connect with the TAP in Greece. Albania is involved in the TAP route.

References

  1. Aalto, P., and D. Korkmaz Temel. 2014. European energy security: Natural gas and the integration process. Journal of Common Market Studies 52 (4): 758–774.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Agranoff, R., and M. McGuire. 2001. Big questions in public network management research. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 11 (3): 295–326.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Andersen, S. 1993. The struggle over North Sea oil and gas. Government strategies in Denmark, Britain and Norway. Oslo: Scandinavian University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Andersen, S.S., A. Goldthau, and N. Sitter. 2016. The EU regulatory state, commission leadership and external energy governance. In EU leadership in energy and environmental governance, ed. J.M. Godzimirski, 51–68. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Andersen, S., A. Goldthau, and N. Sitter. 2017a. Conclusions: Liberal mercantilism. In Energy union: Europe’s new liberal mercantilism?, ed. S. Andersen, A. Goldthau, and N. Sitter, 237–241. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Andersen, S., A. Goldthau, and N. Sitter (eds.). 2017b. Energy Union. Europe’s new liberal mercantilism?. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  7. BEMIP. 2009. BEMIP Action Plan. Final Report.

  8. BEMIP. 2015a. Memorandum of Understanding on the reinforced Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan.

  9. BEMIP. 2015b. BEMIP Action Plan 2015.

  10. Braun, J.F. 2011. EU Energy Policy under the Treaty of Lisbon Rules: Between a New Policy and Business as Usual. CEPS/EPIN Working Paper 31.

  11. Caporaso, J. 1996. The European Union and forms of state: Westphalian, regulatory or post-modern? Journal of Common Market Studies 34 (1): 29–52.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Caporaso, J., M. Kim, W.N. Durrett, and R.B. Wesley. 2015. Still a regulatory state? The European Union and the financial crisis. Journal of European Public Policy 22 (7): 889–907.

    Google Scholar 

  13. CESEC. 2015. Annex II of the Memorandum of Understanding of the Central and South-Eastern European Gas Connectivity (CESEC) High Level Group. Action Plan.

  14. Clift, B. 2014. Comparative political economy. States, markets and global capitalism. London: Palgrave.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Duffield, J.S. 2015. Fuels paradise: Seeking energy security in Europe, Japan, and the United States. Baltimore: JHU Press.

    Google Scholar 

  16. EC. 2000. Towards a European strategy for security of energy supply. Brussels, COM(2000) 769 final.

  17. EC. 2008a. Second strategic energy review. An EU energy security and solidarity action plan. Brussels, COM(2008) 744/3.

  18. EC. 2008b. Towards a secure, sustainable and competitive European energy network. Brussels, COM/2008/0782 final.

  19. EC. 2010a. Report on the implementation of the Trans-European Energy Networks in the period 2007–2009. Brussels, SEC(2010)505 final.

  20. EC. 2010b. Energy infrastructure priorities for 2020 and beyond. A Blueprint for an integrated European energy network. Brussels, COM(2010) 677/4.

  21. EC. 2014. European energy security strategy. Brussels, COM(2014) 330 final.

  22. EC. 2015. Energy union package. Brussels, COM(2015) 80 final.

  23. EC. 2017. On strengthening Europe’s Energy Networks. Brussels, COM(2017) 718 final.

  24. Estrada, J., and D. Kare (eds.). 1995. The development of European gas markets: Environmental, economic and political perspectives. Chichester: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Genschel, P., and M. Jachtenfuchs. 2016. More integration, less federation: the European integration of core state powers. Journal of European Public Policy 23 (1): 42–59.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Genschel, P., and M. Jachtenfuchs (eds.). 2014. Beyond the Regulatory polity? The European integration of core state powers. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Goldthau, A., and N. Sitter. 2014. ‘A liberal actor in a realist world? The Commission and the external dimension of the single market for energy. Journal of European Public Policy 21 (10): 1452–1472.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Goldthau, A., and N. Sitter. 2015. A liberal actor in a realist world. The European Union regulatory state and the global political economy of energy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Goldthau, A., and J. Witte (eds.). 2010. Global energy governance: The new rules of the game. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Haney, A.B., and M.G. Pollitt. 2013. New models of public ownership in energy. International Review of Applied Economics 27 (2): 174–192.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Hayes, M.H., and D.G. Victor. 2006. Politics, markets, and the shift to gas: insights from the seven historical case studies. In Natural gas and geopolitics: From 1970 to 2040, eds. D.G. Victor, A.M. Jaffe, and M.H. Hayes, 319–353. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Heine, J. 2006. On the manner of practicing the new diplomacy. CIGI Working Paper, No. 11.

  33. Heine, J. 2013. From club to network diplomacy. In The Oxford handbook of modern diplomacy, ed. A.F. Cooper et al., 54–69. Oxford: OUP.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Helm, D. 2005. The assessment: The new energy paradigm. Oxford Review of Economic Policy 21 (1): 1–18.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Herranz-Surrallés, A. 2015. European external energy policy: Governance, diplomacy and sustainability. In Sage handbook of European foreign policy, ed. A.K. Aarstad et al., 911–925. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Herranz-Surrallés, A. 2016. An emerging EU energy diplomacy? Discursive shifts, enduring practices. Journal of European Public Policy 23 (9): 1386–1405.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Herranz-Surrallés, A. 2017. Energy diplomacy under scrutiny: parliamentary control of intergovernmental agreements with third-country suppliers. West European Politics 40 (1): 183–201.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Hocking, B. 1999. Catalytic diplomacy: Beyond “newness” and “decline”. In Innovation in diplomatic practice, ed. J. Melissen, 21–42. London: Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Hocking, B. 2004. Diplomacy. In Contemporary European Foreign Policy, eds. W. Carlsnaes, H. Sjursen, B. White, 91–110. London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Klijn, E.H. 2012. New public management and governance: A comparison. In The Oxford handbook of governance, ed. D. Levi-Faur, 201–214. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Kuzemko, C. 2014. Ideas, power and change: explaining EU–Russia energy relations. Journal of European Public Policy 21 (1): 58–75.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Lee, D., and B. Hocking. 2010. Economic diplomacy. In The international studies encyclopedia, vol. II, ed. R.A. Denemark, 1216–1227. West Sussex: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Lind, M. 1992. The catalytic state. National Interest 27: 3–12.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Lodge, M. 2008. Regulation, the regulatory state and European politics. West European Politics 31 (1–2): 280–301.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Majone, G. 1996. Regulating Europe. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Majone, G. 1997. From the positive to the regulatory state: Causes and consequences of changes in the mode of governance. Journal of Public Policy 17 (2): 139–167.

    Google Scholar 

  47. McGowan, F. 2008. Can the European Union’s market liberalism ensure energy security in a time of ‘Economic Nationalism’? Journal of Contemporary European Research 4 (2): 90–106.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Mertens, D., and M. Thiemann. 2017. Building a hidden investment state? The European Investment Bank, national developments banks and European economic governance. Journal of European Public Policy. https://doi.org/10.1080/13501763.2017.1382556.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Mertens, D., and M. Thiemann. 2018. Market-based but state-led: The role of public development banks in shaping market-based finance in the European Union. Competition & Change 22 (2): 184–204.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Odell, J. 2001. Case study methods in international political economy. International Studies Perspectives 2 (2): 161–176.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Padgett, S. 2011. Energy co-operation in the Wider Europe: Institutionalizing interdependence. Journal of Common Market Studies 49: 1065–1087.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Pollitt, M.G. 2016. New models of public ownership in energy. In The economics of infrastructure provisioning: The changing role of the state, ed. A. Picot, M. Florio, N. Grove, and J. Kranz, 387–405. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Prange-Gstöhl, H. 2009. Enlarging the EU’s internal energy market: Why would third countries accept EU rule export? Energy Policy 37 (12): 5296–5303.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Prontera, A. 2017. Forms of state and European energy security: Diplomacy and pipelines in Southeastern Europe. European Security 26 (2): 273–298.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Prontera, A. 2018a. The new politics of energy security and the rise of the catalytic state in southern Europe. Journal of Public Policy 38 (4): 511–551.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Prontera, A. 2018b. Italian energy security, the Southern Gas Corridor and the new pipeline politics in Western Europe: From the partner state to the catalytic state. Journal of International Relations and Development 21 (2): 464–494.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Sartori, N. 2012. The European Commission’s policy towards the Southern Gas Corridor: Between national interests and economic fundamentals. IAI WP 12/1, January 2012.

  58. Sartori, N. 2013. ‘Energy and politics: Behind the scenes of the Nabucco-TAP Competition. IAI WP 13/27, July 2013.

  59. Schmidt, V.A. 2009. Putting the political back into political economy by bringing the state back in yet again. World Politics 61 (3): 516–546.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Schubert, S.R., J. Pollak, and M. Kreutler. 2016. Energy policy of the European union. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  61. SGC. 2015. Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council. Joint Press Statement, Baku, 12 February 2015.

  62. SGC. 2016. Joint declaration of the second Ministerial Meeting of Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council, Baku, 20 February 2016.

  63. Siddi, M. 2019. The EU’s botched geopolitical approach to external energy policy: The case of the Southern Gas Corridor. Geopolitics 24 (1): 124–144.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Skelcher, C. 2010. Governing partnerships. In International handbook on public–private partnerships, ed. G. Hodge, C. Greve, and A. Boardman, 292–304. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Sovacool, B., and R. Sidorstov. 2013. Energy governance in the United States. In The handbook of global energy policy, ed. A. Goldthau, 435–456. West Sussex: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  66. Stern, J. 1990. European gas markets: Challenge and opportunity in the 1990s. London: Dartmouth Publishing Company.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Stopford, J., and S. Strange. 1991. Rival states, rival firms: Competition for world market shares. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Talus, K. 2013. EU energy law and policy: A critical account. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Talus, K. 2015. European Union energy: New role for states and markets. In States and markets in hydrocarbon sectors, ed. A. Belyi and K. Talus, 198–213. London: Palgrave-Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  70. Tussie, D. 2013. Trade diplomacy. In The Oxford handbook of modern diplomacy, ed. A.F. Cooper et al., 625–642. Oxford: OUP.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Weiss, L. 1998. The myth of the powerless state. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Weiss, L. 1999. Globalization and national governance: Antinomy or interdependence?. Review of International Studies 25 (5): 59–88.

    Google Scholar 

  73. Weiss, L. 2010. Globalization and the myth of the powerless state. In Readings in globalization. Key concepts and major debates, ed. G. Ritzer and Z. Ataly, 166–175. West Sussex: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  74. Weiss, L. 2014. America Inc.? Innovation and enterprise in the national security state. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  75. Woll, C., and S. Jacquot. 2010. Using Europe: Strategic action in multi-level politics. Comparative European Politics 8 (1): 110–126.

    Google Scholar 

  76. Youngs, R. 2009. Energy security: Europe’s new foreign policy challenge. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andrea Prontera.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Prontera, A. Beyond the regulatory state: rethinking energy security governance and politics in the European Union. Comp Eur Polit 18, 330–362 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41295-019-00188-z

Download citation

Keywords

  • Catalytic state
  • Energy diplomacy
  • EU energy security
  • Regulatory state
  • Security of gas supply