Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Research Student: Dr Slawomir Raszewski

European Union Energy Policy and the Black Sea/Caspian Region: Between Security Community and Security Complex?

Photo of Dr Slawomir Raszewski

The return of energy security, as an issue of growing importance in international relations, has been a hallmark of the post-Cold War period. The systemic rift of 9/11 served as a ‘wake-up call’ in creating awareness of energy dependence and the associated political instability nexus, leading to energy diversification and conservation measures being initiated in major energy-consuming regions.

Owing to its differing trade and supply structures, the role of natural gas as a fuel of choice to fill the gap between the era of oil and the era of nuclear/renewable energy has become part of the energy security agenda while exposing it to a number of factors which have made it a key regional issue.

Originally a bearer of an identity of an ‘energy community’, the European Union (EU) has been a leading proponent of this process. This thesis will provide a systematic re-examination of the foreign energy policy of the EU towards the Black Sea/Caspian region providing an explanation for EU policy failures during the critical years from 2004 to 2009. 

Despite a mature gas trade relationship with and its proximity to the energy rich nations of the Former Soviet Union (FSU), EU–Russia energy relations experienced a severe refreezing following the change of political leadership in Russia after 2000, which took place against a backdrop of rising global market prices for oil and, linked to this, similar rises in the price of gas.

During the same period, the two transformative enlargements into Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) promised new energy policy opportunities, yet they have also created looming challenges in the process of creating a broader energy security community. 

The emerging conflation of the Caspian Sea region with the Black Sea region in energy terms, with Turkey as the conduit linking the energy-producing regions of the Caucasus and Central Asia with consuming states in Europe, have mutually become exposed to geopolitical realities that are clustered in the broader region.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork data collected both in Brussels and Ankara the thesis provides vital information and analysis on the criticality of energy supply and the transit side of the policy and sheds new light on this process in the case study. The thesis identifies the causes of the deadlock affecting the policy-making process at the EU level and at the regional level in the Black/Caspian Sea region by examining both the internal and external dynamics which have frustrated the policymaking process. 

A focus in the EU on liberalisation and energy diversification have been hallmarks of the internal dynamics of the EU’s policymaking processes. This has directly further added to the increased ‘bureaucratisation’ of the EU’s energy policymaking process.

The thesis also highlights at the regional level Ankara’s new foreign and diplomacy-based energy policy dynamism juxtaposed with Moscow’s omnipresence in regional energy security affairs. This regional juxtaposition of Ankara’s energy needs and Moscow’s omnipresence in the region poses difficult challenges for the implementation of EU energy policy as is discussed in the thesis. 

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