Energy is What States Make of it: Exploring New Aspects in the EU-Russian Energy Relations from a Constructivist Perspective

University essay from Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: Energy cooperation is generally considered to be a solid base for further relational development between Europe and Russia due to the long history of this cooperation and the integrative nature of energy. Still, cooperative success has been modest despite that it is most likely to occur within this field. Hence, the main aim here is to find out why. Due to the empirical nature of research on the EU-Russian relations this thesis takes on a constructivist perspective by paying attention to identity and interest-formation in the parties’ interaction process. The results found in the analysis confirm the importance of studying identities and interests in order to explain actor interaction. More specifically, it has become clear that the structural geopolitical context, projections on increased demand, changed European political climate and rising oil prices gradually accentuate the parties’ differing positions. It is also clear that by politicising the energy dialogue and perceiving the other as an antagonist/competitor rather than a partner the political character of the energy issue has been reproduced. This, in turn, is explained by the actors’ need to reproduce their identities and interests. Thus, interaction is not just about managing important issues but also about reproducing oneself.

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