European upstream energy cooperation : political risk, milieu-shaping and politico-commercial relations in the Caspian Sea region
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis
The development of an energy role for the European Union has been a divisive area of EU policy. The competing interests and differing perspectives of member states, EU institutions and commercial energy players have hampered the development of downstream European internal energy markets, obstructed the construction of mid-stream transportation routes that would diversify European energy supplies and hindered the EU’s ability to ‘speak with one voice’ towards major suppliers. However, despite widespread scholarly coverage of EU energy issues, the tri-lateral upstream interaction between European institutions, member states and energy companies in the countries where oil and gas are produced has received less academic attention. This thesis seeks to address this lacuna in the literature through an examination of upstream intra-EU cooperation in the Caspian region. This study finds that the EU’s upstream oil and gas policy in the Caspian is, relatively speaking, more coherent than many other areas of European energy policy. In the Caspian, European convergence forms, in particular, around the EU’s collective political risk mitigation and market facilitation role. Employing an interdisciplinary International Political Economy approach, the thesis examines how the EU’s model of European energy supply entails dependence on the commercial sector which compels political actors to support companies in strategic regions through milieu-shaping energy governance and commercial (energy) diplomacy. The thesis demonstrates how European actors share similar upstream risk perceptions, promote overlapping security and market-based policy perspectives and how both member states and companies increasingly encourage an EU foreign policy role in meeting these upstream challenges. In doing so, this research examines the EU’s risk-mitigating external energy governance, the EU’s diplomatic practice in upstream energy and the dynamics of European politico-commercial interaction in the Caspian - core aspects of an under-researched, but ultimately increasingly cooperative, part of EU external energy policy.
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