No 2

European energy security discourses and the development of a common energy policy

Julia Trombetta


How has a discourse about energy security, which merges supply, environmental and market issues, emerged within the European Union (EU)? Indeed, an energy security discourse has contributed to the rapid development of a common energy policy between 2006 and 2009, and, with the Lisbon Treaty, to the formalization of energy policy competencies at the European level. In this paper, I analyze this phenomenon with the theory of securitization. This theory conceptualizes the discursive power of labeling an issue as a security issue. It argues that a successful speech act constitutes a security issue and transforms the way of dealing with it, legitimizing exceptional measures. In the case of energy security, it allows to investigate how other issues besides security of supply became energy security issues, and to explore how appeals to energy security prompted exceptional measures and led to the creation of European competencies. Appeals to security brought about new institutional arrangements. Adopting a broad perspective on securitization, I suggest that threat construction is interlinked with the choice of exceptional measures. I have found two constructions of threats. The first focused on the states, security of supply and protectionist measures. The second focused on the EU, brought together supply, environmental and market threats to call for new competencies at the European level. The success of the latter justified the rapid development of a common energy policy.

Publication information

'European energy security discourses and the developement of a common energy policy.' By Julia Trombetta. Working Papers of the Energy Delta Gas Research, no 2 (2012), pp. 1-27. 

Includes a bibliography
Subjects: energy, discourse analysis, security, Europe

Edited by Jean-François Auger

© 2012 by the author(s)

ISSN 2213-6169