Thaler Investigates Growing Importance of the European Council in Energy

Philipp Thaler

A member of the CEU's Energy Policy Research Group Dr Philipp Thaler published his recent article “The European Commission and the European Council: Coordinated Agenda setting in European energy policy” in the Journal of European integration. In the publication he investigates the effects of a growing importance of the European Council for policy integration – a trend that has been experienced in various fields in the post-Maastricht era – in the specific context of EU energy policy.

Thaler argues that the role of the European Council has indeed gained in importance in the energy field. Key initiatives throughout the past decade have been shaped by the Heads of State and Government. Intergovernmental coordination became increasingly necessary in response to a field that is characterized by growing fragmentation into three coexisting strands: the internal energy market, security of supply policies and an environmental agenda.

The European Council’s new involvement has brought change to long-established working-patterns in the policy area. Most importantly, the new intergovernmentalism challenges the classical role of the European Commission in the field that was rooted in its single market competence. However, the Commission has not become sidelined in this development. Instead, it has successfully countered the European Council’s leadership ambitions through the adoption of more flexible working mechanisms. As a consequence, developments in the energy field reveal increased cooperation between the two key institutions, and a Commission that has retained substantial policy initiative capacities.

Thaler, a 2016 graduate of CEU’s Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations and a former EPRG member, is currently a Brussels-based Policy Advisor for the climate and energy think tank E3G.