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Energiepolitik in der EU und Russland - Interessenlagen, Konfliktpotenziale, Kooperationsansätze

Liebing, Stefan

Die vorliegende Arbeit versucht Erklärungsansätze dafür zu identifizieren, warum die energiepolitischen und –wirtschaftlichen Beziehungen zwischen der Europäischen Union und Russland während des vergangenen Jahrzehnts nicht von starker Kooperation geprägt und häufig von Krisen betroffen waren. Um diese Frage schlüssig beantworten zu können, sind eine Reihe von Themen zu bearbeiten: Zunächst fasst die Arbeit die europäische Energiepolitik der vergangenen Jahre zusammen. Es werden relevante Akteure identifiziert sowie auf Basis eines Multi-Level-Governance-Ansatzes ihre Positionierung und Interaktion beschrieben. Es folgt eine Darstellung der Schwerpunkte, Hintergründe und Themenfelder russischer Energiepolitik sowie eine Übersicht über die aktuellen Interessenlagen relevanter russischer Akteure. Beide Ansätze zusammenführend, versucht die Arbeit auf Basis spieltheoretischer Überlegungen einen Erklärungsansatz dafür, wo theoretisch abgeleitete gemeinsame Interessen bestehen und warum diese dennoch empirisch kaum beobachtbar sind.

The paper under the above mentioned title tries to develop an understanding of the question why energy relations and cooperation between the European Union and Russia in energy matters haven´t been very successful over the last decade and why relations are affected by crises frequently. In order to answer these questions meaningfully, several steps need to be made: First, the paper offers a summary of recent policy debate on energy questions on the EU side. It identifies relevant participants in the “political arena” and describes their positioning and interaction, based on a multi-level-governance approach. Following a look at history of European energy policy developments, the paper concludes that a complex European policy field has developed recently, although there is no direct responsibility for energy matters with European institutions so far, but that the justification for any law-making in the said areas is deducted from secondary EU level responsibilities such as common market, competition law or environmental matters. However, there is a huge bandwidth of positions between political actors, civil service, parliaments, industry associations, consumers’ organizations etc as well as between community and national level organizations. Not only a battle for power and competence between these levels hinders a straight and consistent energy policy across the EU, there is also significantly different focus with different players on where to put effort between conflicting objectives of the “European Energy Triangle”, demanding (1) secure and reliable, (2) cheap and competitive as well as (3) environmentally friendly energy supplies. Despite all these differences, within the EU, a strong and well-regarded new area of policy debate has developed in the energy sector and a lot has been achieved. Observers frequently demand the EU to “speak with one voice” towards third parties, eg gas producing countries like Russia. The paper concludes that the EU doesn´t find it easy to fix their positioning towards these partners. However, many areas of common interest and matching objectives can be identified. In order to understand how this could fit with the Russian side, in a second step, a thorough survey of Russian energy policy and political institutions is conducted. Following an investigation of how the Russian political system including its formal and informal actors defines energy policy interest and positions, it turns out that there are major systematic differences, including very much of a top-down approach and only a few elite groups who exert some informal influence. Today’s structure is quite different from the approach during the Yeltsin period. Despite differences between structures and systems, it can be shown that the overall objectives of energy policy and geopolitics are quite clear to understand and that there is a stringent logic behind them. Since it is very high on the Russian agenda to stabilize the country’s investment framework, to improve technology transfer and competitiveness of non-resource-based industries, to access new resource bases (such as in the arctic or far abroad) and to attract foreign investors to help addressing the investment gap in the oil and gas production sector, it looks like there is a lot of room for cooperation and matching objectives with the EU side. In a third step then, EU and Russian agendas are compared in order to identify areas of common interest that – in theory – should lead to successful cooperation projects. The paper comes up with several of these. It uses game theory models including a theoretical concept of “linkage deals” to develop these thoughts. But as these “theoretically derived” models of cooperation can´t be observed in practice widely, communicative barriers – leading to a lack of trust between the parties – must form the key obstacle. It becomes clear – underlined by empirical evidence – that cooperative game strategies tend to work out successfully, while confrontative or hybrid ones require the addition of other policy items to form an overall “linkage deal”. Even this construct has a number of prerequisites to work to the advantage of EU-Russian energy relationships: One key obstacle that needs to be removed is the huge difference in member states’ positions and interest. Transparency on objectives and motivational structures on both sides is required, too, as well as trust between the parties. The final chapter uses some theoretical concepts of trust and – on the basis of an empirical study – proposes ways to overcome this gap. Mistrust at the moment is caused both by institutional differences and different cultural backgrounds. As far as institutional differences are concerned, structural as well as political differences can be observed that play a role in not allowing trust to the degree necessary at this stage. Based on these observations, some comments are made regarding the current state of the EU-Russia Energy Dialogue as well as negotiations of a new version of the joint Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. The paper closes by developing some initial ideas on how to improve these key vehicles or EU-Russian energy policy debate.

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Liebing, Stefan: Energiepolitik in der EU und Russland - Interessenlagen, Konfliktpotenziale, Kooperationsansätze. 2010.


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