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Assessing the European Union’s Energy Policy: the nature of interests and conflicts in a changing historical environment

Jakstas, Tadas (2016) Assessing the European Union’s Energy Policy: the nature of interests and conflicts in a changing historical environment. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This thesis contributes to an understanding of the changes in prominence in EU energy policy since the 1990s. It does so by analysing struggles over energy poli-cy developments, as well as focusing on a new way of looking at EU politics, in particular, at the role of the EU Commission in the development of energy policy. Realist and liberal oriented perspectives, and constructivist and discourse ap-proaches, offer competing theoretical frameworks through which to view EU politics, and furnish us with many useful insights. However, they also suffer from some prob-lematic features, such as state-centrism, automatism, determinism, and cultural relativism. Drawing on the neo-Gramscian approach, informed by a historical institution-alist perspective, and certain elements of the post-structuralist account, I provide a more convincing and thorough explanation of several considerable shifts in EU energy policy, beginning with competitiveness in the 1990s, then turning towards energy security as well as climate change in the 2000s, and again competitiveness at the end of the 2000s. In addition, I illuminate the proactive role of the Commission in continuous hegemonic struggles over EU energy policy development. First, using historical institutionalism, I argue that the EU Commission acts as a political entrepreneur, promoting a long-term pro-growth orientation that stems from its organizational DNA, i.e. its historical make-up. Moreover, other state and non-state players often contest the Commission’s forward-looking position. The neo-Gramscian account of hegemony provides a comprehensive and detailed framework that reveals how the Commission, and other players, were actively involved in hegemonic struggles sur-rounding the EU energy policy domain. Furthermore, due to the lack of analytical mechanisms in the neo-Gramscian tradition to explore dynamic struggles and changes at the discursive level, I use the post-structuralist political logics of equivalence and difference, together with various rhetorical instruments that serve as descriptive framing devices.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
Depositing User: Tadas Jakstas
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2016 14:17
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2016 14:17
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/16023

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