What comes after 2020: An analysis of the effect of European policy creation on renewable energy targets for 2030

Morten Fischer Clausen

Student thesis: Master thesis


With the Treaty of Lisbon, energy policy became one of the shared competences of the EU institutions under Article 4 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This enables the European Commission to propose legislation for common European energy policy, and has recently resulted in a Green Paper ‘A framework for 2030 energy and climate policies’, published by the Commission in March 2013, which proposes plans for a new European energy strategy running from 2020 till 2030. This strategy includes a 30-45% target for European energy to come from renewable energy sources (RES) by 2030. This thesis therefore analyses how the European policy creation process will affect the final target that will be adopted. In order to conduct this analysis, the PEST model has been used to bring attention to the main factors of influence upon the process, both external and internal to the EU setting. These factors are then used in combination with European integration theories to assess whether European energy policy developments in recent years can best be described using a neofunctional or intergovernmental approach. These findings are subsequently substantiated through the use of Principal-Agent theory, which allows for a description of the nature of the mandates extended to the different actors. As a result of this process, it is found that the member states (MSs) have so far, and will also in the future, have the deciding say in the pace and depth of European energy policy harmonization. This is in no small part due to the fact that the article 194 of the TFEU leaves competence to MSs to decide on their own energy mix, which can only be deviated from by unanimous MS decision. This means that a future RES target will reflect the priorities of the MSs primarily. However it is also found, that due to the empowered roles of the European Parliament and the European Commission, following the Treaty of Lisbon, the MSs will continuously be pushed toward accepting a more ambitious target by these two institutions. Finally, the findings also indicate that interest representation has come to play an increasing role in energy policy since the Treaty of Lisbon, and that interest groups will put further pressure on the MSs, on both the national and supranational level, to adopt a more ambitious RES target.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages92