Article by Nick Sitter: Power, authority and security: the EU’s Russian gas dilemma

January 23, 2020

Nick Sitter, SPP Professor and Andreas Goldthau (University of Erfurt, formerly of SPP) publish “Power, Authority and Security: the EU’s Russian Gas Dilemma” in the Journal of European Integration, on the EU’s policy dilemmas in the face of gas imports from Russia.

The debate over whether and how the EU should stop the Nord Stream II gas pipeline has forced debates into the open, with some states arguing that the EU should use economic regulations for security motives. However, this risks undermining the credibility of EU regulations, and the EU would be better advised to deal with security challenges as security problems, even if it is more difficult to reach an agreement among the member states on foreign policy action.

The EU is increasingly caught in a genuine dilemma as to how to use its economic power in an ever increasing geo-political world.The EU could also use its economic power to deal with security threats. By using energy regulation, for example, it can try to stop pipeline projects that its member states oppose on security grounds: a Market Power strategy.

As an alternative they could use Regulatory Power, a strategy the authors argue would fit well within the EU’s overall liberal approach to geo-politics. Through these means, the they state that the EU could use its power to help build markets and make them work better, even beyond its own borders, by forcing its trading partners to work by EU rules, if they seek to take full advantage of the EU market.