19.01.2023

Geopolitics and Energy Security in Europe: How Do We Move Forward?

Geopolitics press the EU to solve the sustainability, supply security, and competitiveness trilemma. How can Europe achieve energy sovereignty?

The ongoing shift in the geopolitical landscape presses the EU to recognise its limits on energy security approach and governance. In our new release of the study on “Geopolitics and Energy Security in Europe: How do we move forward?”, written by Dr Jacopo Maria Pepe from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), the author provides an explanation of the key challenges and outlines recommendations on how to build a united European energy front towards a functional energy security strategy.

The EU has been debating for decades on how to construct an effective and resilient energy security strategy, that ultimately failed to solve the tensions between different levels of energy governance (regional, national and supranational), as well as different preferences in terms of the energy mix, domestic resources and external partners. Globally, Europe also faces a major dilemma on how to preserve its own model of open and liberalised energy markets while adapting to the realpolitik of geopolitics, where governments and security considerations dictate energy policy and distort markets. At the same time, it must also address the perplexity of reconciling long-term climate goals with short-term supply security and its energy independence aspirations with new supply dependencies and risks emerging in the transition to a green and decarbonised energy system. Currently, a centralised European energy governance is politically out of reach and economically potentially dysfunctional, due to the varying structures of European economies and their energy mixes. Nevertheless, there is a way out. The author argues that a solid political bargain covering two major lines of action could provide the EU with the right tools to solve these complexities.

First, there is a need for internal action that should focus on national or EU-funded energy infrastructure, with a focus on electricity networks and natural gas and hydrogen infrastructure. Regional governance mechanisms, combined with H2 interconnectivity, must also enforce the present and future energy supply chains.

Second, the external action should first approach energy and industrial relations with the USA and China pragmatically but not exclude robust responses. As a decoupling from China will be hard to achieve, a mix of engagement and diversification will be needed. Dialogue and partnership with the USA should focus on securing supply chains and gas supplies and nurturing green technologies without excluding symmetrical responses when it comes to green investments and industrial competition. Importantly, the military dimension of energy security also needs to be strengthened, by prioritising marine energy infrastructure protection.

What are the other measures that Europe can elaborate in order to pave its path toward achieving energy sovereignty? More details can be found in the study below.

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