M-RCBG Associate Working Paper No. 51
The EU Energy Union, Energy Security and Russian Gas
Ole Gunnar Austvik
This paper discusses and contrasts the proposals for an Energy Union in the European Union and its impact on its security-of-gas-supply. Based on an examination of historical East-West gas trade and by revisiting energy security concepts, the paper analyzes how problems with dependency on energy imports can be reduced. The paper discusses how the positions of Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), where security challenges are especially evident, and the positions of countries in Western Europe, where they are less acute, interact and conflicts in making a common EU energy security policy. The constraints to EU market liberalization and its intentional and functional linkages to security-of-gas supply, and whether supplements and more interventionist measures are needed, are discussed. The paper argues that as long as Russia does not behave according to Western regulatory standards, and the transit routes remain unpredictable, the energy security issue must be addressed by measures within EU jurisdiction. Improved interconnectedness within and to the CEEC appears to be the central issue that would mitigate, albeit not solve, contemporary security problems. A more comprehensive infrastructure would increase flexibility for gas transportation, allow for supplies to come from other sources, harmonize contractual terms, and improve the negotiating power towards Gazprom. As it would also bring the internal energy market closer to reality, it could in addition help the Energy Union to become a unifying project merging the interests of Western Europe and CEEC despite their different security-of-gas supply concerns with Russian gas.