European energy security policy-making in the context of EU enlargement: the role of newer member states as agenda-setters, 2004-2013

  • Tomas Maltby

Student thesis: Phd


This research analyses the extent to which three newer (European Union) EU member states, Poland, Bulgaria and Latvia have attempted and succeeded in shaping the development of the EU's energy security policy, focusing on natural gas. This explores the argument that EU membership affects the formation of national foreign and energy policy as well as procedures of policy-making, and that newer member states have also been able to shape EU level policy-making through the 'uploading' of national preferences. The research engages with relevant conceptual issues to develop and utilise a framework which is a synthesis of literature on EU agenda-setting, policy framing, Europeanisation and the social construction of energy 'crises' and (in)security. This conceptual frame is then used to explore and evaluate the influence of newer member states on EU energy policy agenda-setting, policy-making and policy implementation. Evaluating the obstacles and opportunities for influence, an empirically rich data set is analysed to test the extent to which five theoretically derived hypotheses account for member state influence. Five mechanisms are identified as potentially key factors in explaining the degree of influence which member states have. The thesis suggests that one is the impact of supply disruptions and price rises on perceptions and constructions of national and EU energy security. This can contribute towards a context that is conducive to the arguments about policy change and projection being made, a policy window, and is a reflection of the social construction of energy insecurity and energy crises. Diplomatic skill and learning to 'play the EU game', being active in Council summits and technocratic level(s), and engaging in consensual policy-making that adheres to EU norms and interests is seen as important. Another key factor is the role of Russia as a major and sometimes monopoly gas supplier, in constraining, enabling, and influencing the strength of national interests - the extent of political will and EU energy policy activism. A fourth factor is considered to be the extent to which institutionalised sub-EU regional and strategic alliances exist and are prioritised as an arena to develop coordinated policies and preferences. The final conceptually derived factor is related to the strength of administrative capacity, in terms of well-coordinated institutions at the national and EU level, and sufficient personnel and resources.The thesis also provides a study of the development of EU energy policy since the 1950s in chapter two, and chapters three to five focus on the three country case studies; Poland, Bulgaria and Latvia. These empirical chapters include in each case a history of their energy policy and relations with both the EU and Russia. The thesis concludes with an analysis of the empirical findings using comparative country case manner approach, along with conceptual (and methodological) observations based on the testing of the hypotheses.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorDimitris Papadimitriou (Supervisor) & Stuart Shields (Supervisor)


  • Bulgaria
  • Poland
  • EU enlargement
  • Latvia
  • EU agenda-setting
  • Europeanisation
  • Energy security
  • EU policy-making

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