The regulation of energy transitions in Europe

By Stefan Bouzarovski

Earlier in March, the University of Eastern Finland in Joensuu hosted a conference titled ‘Energy Transitions: Regulation of Energy Markets and Domestic, Regional and International Levels’. In addition to the host university, the event was also organized by the Political Economy of Energy in Europe and Russia group, and the Energy Law Research Forum. The conference featured a wide range of papers, mainly focusing on the regulation of energy supply and transit in the European hydrocarbon sector. There were also a number of contributions dealing with the governance of sustainability transitions in various (mostly) European contexts.

Alexander Wochnik (from Aston University) and I presented a paper titled ‘Political reconciliation and international energy relations: Governing energy transit in the Balkans’. We mainly explored the manner in which the successful functioning of integrated electricity grids and overland gas transit networks has countered difficult political relations among countries in the region.

The conference is the fourth such event organized by PEEER, and seems to be part of a growing effort to consolidate the emergent community of researchers interested in European ‘energy governance’ matters. The predominance of legal and regulatory discussions at the conference reflects the prevalence of law and political science scholars in this debate, in which geographers and environmental scientists are only now beginning to make inroads. The very establishment of such a community, however, is a welcome development from the situation that existed only several years ago; it is indicative of the importance of considering Europe and its ‘geo-energy space’ (Mañé-Estrada 2006) as a single – albeit multi-layered – territorial entity.

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