EU-Russia energy relations: What chance for solutions? A focus on the natural gas sector

EU-Russia energy relations: What chance for solutions? A focus on the natural gas sector / Dimo Böhme. Potsdam University Press, 2014, 348 p. (Potsdam Economic Studies n° 3)

Author’s abstract :

Public debate about energy relations between the EU and Russia is distorted. These distortions present considerable obstacles to the development of true partnership. At the core of the conflict is a struggle for resource rents between energy producing, energy consuming and transit countries.
Supposed secondary aspects, however, are also of great importance. They comprise of geopolitics, market access, economic development and state sovereignty. The European Union, having engaged in energy market liberalisation, faces a widening gap between declining domestic resources and continuously growing energy demand. Diverse interests inside the EU prevent the definition of a coherent and respected energy policy. Russia, for its part, is no longer willing to subsidise its neighbouring economies by cheap energy exports. The Russian government engages in assertive policies pursuing Russian interests. In so far, it opts for a different globalisation approach, refusing the role of mere energy exporter. In view of the intensifying struggle for global resources, Russia, with its large energy potential, appears to be a very favourable option for European energy supplies, if not the best one. However, several outcomes of the strategic game between the two partners can be imagined. Engaging in non-cooperative strategies will in the end leave all stakeholders worse-off. The European Union should therefore concentrate on securing its partnership with Russia instead of damaging it. Stable cooperation would need the acceptance that the partner may pursue his own goals, which might be different from one’s own interests. The question is, how can a sustainable compromise be found? This thesis finds that a mix of continued dialogue, a tit for tat approach bolstered by an international institutional framework and increased integration efforts appears as a preferable solution.

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