Mellem suverænitet og solidaritet: Polen og Energiunionen

Lena Lykkegaard Laursen

Student thesis: Master thesis


In February 2015, the European Commission presented a framework strategy for an Energy Union, which consists of five mutually reinforcing dimensions: supply security, an integrated energy market, energy efficiency, decarbonisation, and research and innovation. Poland has long advocated a common European approach to energy policy, and has previously presented its own proposal for an energy union. This thesis investigates what lies behind the European Commission’s Energy Union strategy, and how this strategy corresponds with Poland’s interests in an energy union.
In order to answer this research question, the thesis draws on three integration theories: neofunctionalism, intergovernmentalism and liberal intergovernmentalism. These theories supplement and criticise each other by highlighting different aspects of the integration process. Taking a hermeneutic approach, the theories are used to challenge and qualify the author’s horizon of understanding.
The analysis finds that the Energy Union should be viewed in a wider historical context. As the EU has slowly moved towards a common European energy policy, three interconnected goals for energy policy have been established: energy security, competitiveness and sustainability. These three priorities lie at the heart of the Energy Union. The analysis furthermore finds that the recent upheaval in energy policy, including the Energy Union, is a result of both functional and cultivated spillover, as well as the fact that most member states have increased their support for a common energy policy. The latter can be ascribed to a mix of global and regional circumstances, such as political unrest in energy exporting countries, the Eastern enlargement etc. When it comes to Poland’s interests in an energy union, the analysis shows that Poland sees the three goals of the Energy Union strategy as conflicting. The goal of sustainability is seen as a threat to both energy security and economic competitiveness. This is due to the Polish coal industry, which is integral to the country’s security of supply. Because of Poland’s historical experiences with foreign domination, concerns about national sovereignty and energy independence are of utmost importance. Furthermore, the coal industry is perceived as a significant driver in economic growth and job creation, and it enjoys wide support among the public, the media and political parties.
The thesis concludes that Poland prioritises security of supply above all. As such, Poland supports the elements of the Energy Union which can decrease the EU’s dependence on foreign import and lead to greater energy solidarity between member states. On the other hand, the inclusion of decarbonisation as an important part of the Energy Union is completely at odds with Poland’s national interests. However, by linking different dimensions of energy and climate policy in one overall framework strategy, the European Commission has made compromises and concessions possible.
At a more general level, this thesis further concludes that both supranational and intergovernmental theories are necessary to fully understand the EU’s energy policy. The field of energy is still dominated by national interests, but supranational institutions such as the European Commission play an important role as well. The theoretical perspectives employed in this thesis can explain different parts of the integration process, and combining them thus leads to a more nuanced understanding of the process towards an energy union.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages98