Dealing with energy security in Europe: a comparison of gas market policies in the European Union and the United States

Boersma, T., 2013, Groningen: s.n.. 198 p.

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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  • Tim Boersma
Energy security has been back on the political agenda since Ukraine seized supplies of natural gas to the European Union (EU) in 2006. Though it was the first substantial supply disruption in several decades, the incident sparked lengthy and sometimes heated debates about the availability of supplies, reliability of suppliers and diversification of supply routes. Since 2010 the European Commission (EC) has openly acknowledged that the aforementioned supply disruptions could have been dealt with if the EU internal energy system were functioning properly. This analysis shows that there are abundant gas supplies available to the EU gas system but that they cannot always flow freely, which weakens the system’s capacity to respond to disruptions. Despite the fact that attracting sufficient investment in gas infrastructure and streamlining national regulations have been on the agenda for a substantial period of time, the EU still has challenges to overcome in both these fields. This study examines whether existing decision-making structures in the EU are adequate to address these issues. It does so by carrying out an ex-ante institutional analysis following neofunctionalist and new institutional economic thinking. Neofunctionalist theory seems applicable to energy policy development in the EU for a number of reasons, e.g. because it acknowledges the notion that newly designed institutions in Europe pursue their own interests and appear to actively steer the integration process. New institutional economists attribute value to the context in which economic activity takes place, i.e. the interplay between supply and demand and how that determines prices. This idea is relevant when analyzing the EU internal gas system’s functioning, because some of the described inefficiencies are found in institutions, e.g. the lack of implementation of existing legislation, or the inadequate streamlining of national regulatory regimes. Finally a multilevel governance framework has been applied to dissect decision-making structures in two of the case studies. Though its merits as a theory of European integration have been widely debated, the framework is helpful in this context, because it distinguishes between geographical scales, and also allows for a distinction between public and private actors. Also, multilevel governance has been applied to the case of the United States, which is used as a benchmark in all three case studies, because it is widely viewed as being the only well-functioning gas system in the world.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Award date23-Sep-2013
Place of PublicationGroningen
Print ISBNs978-94-6191-850-5
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Verenigde Staten, Proefschriften (vorm), Aardgas, EU-landen, Marktmechanisme, Veiligheidspolitiek, Energievoorziening, Energiebeleid, energie-economie

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