Re-calibrating the EU energy transition, fostering a more democratic Energy Union

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The EU crisis has exposed the vagaries of the top-down, elite-driven, ordo-liberal, technocratic model of European integration and governance that aggravates the EU democratic deficit. In this context, the discussion on the future of EU integration has been framed within the dipole of either fast-track integration, or reversal thereof. A third way argues for a citizen-centred, and hence more democratic, mode of European integration and governance (Nicolaϊdis and Youngs 2014).
The energy sector also follows the entrenched top-down integration and governance model, with the proclaimed Energy Union focusing preponderantly on European energy interconnectivity and centralized patterns of energy production, transmission and consumption (Pellerin-Carlin 2017). The energy transition away from fossil fuel-based sources and systems and towards smart, clean energy ones, however, presents significant opportunities for the democratization of energy governance in the EU (Szulecki 2018), thus chiming with calls to reshuffle the European integration project with greater recourse to citizens as co-producers of policy (Youngs 2018).
The paper begins with a brief discussion of the internal and external legitimacy aspects of the democratic deficit in the key problematic areas of transparency, representation, participation and accountability, and shows how they also apply to the Union’s energy policy.
Section 3 discusses how the energy transition, by involving critical decisions regarding the locations, scales, types and modes of installation of renewable energy generation facilities and transmission infrastructure (Clark, Iles and Jones 2013), can open-up epistemic politics to the public and utilize lay knowledge (Stirling 2008). This way, citizens both co-shape energy policy, and become themselves agents of the energy transition. This mode of governance ensures transparency, representation and participation in energy decision-making, resulting in input legitimacy.
Section 4 zooms in on how a citizen-based model of energy transition can both upscale climate policy performance and foster energy security (Proedrou 2018), this way achieving output legitimacy.
The conclusion summarizes the potential to recalibrate the EU energy transition towards a more inclusive, transparent and democratic model of integration and governance. Energy policy can thus achieve higher input and output legitimacy, as well as showcase the merits of a citizen-centred model of European integration and governance.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2019
EventEuropean Consortium for Political Research 2019 General Conference - University of Wrocław, Wrocław, Poland
Duration: 4 Sept 20197 Sept 2019
Conference number: 13th


ConferenceEuropean Consortium for Political Research 2019 General Conference
Abbreviated title#ecprconf19


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