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The EU and Russia energy trade – thickening of legality and solidarity?

Turksen, Umut


Umut Turksen


This paper critically examines the evolution of the energy trade and relations between the EU and Russia. In doing so, the authors evaluate whether the existing legal framework of the EU-Russia energy relations provides a reliable energy supply from Russia to the EU. The analysis of energy security is informed by three different perspectives:

The first approach analyses the energy security from the EU’s perspective. Accordingly, the institutional and legal tools conferred to the EU by the Member States in the Treaties are examined. Moreover, the contribution of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in clarifying the division of competences between the EU and the Member States as well as the effectiveness of the Common Foreign and Security Policy in energy dealings with Russia are also considered. Discussion is geared towards finding whether the EU has sufficient legal tools to speak with one voice in line with the ‘solidarity principle’ when it comes to external energy relations with Russia.

The second perspective evaluates the role of international energy framework in securing the energy supplies from Russia. This includes an analysis of bilateral measures.

The third perspective focuses on the long-term contracts for gas supply from Russia to the EU particularly in the context of progressive liberalisation of the EU internal market, so as to find out whether these features contribute to strengthening of the energy security.

The article concludes that the EU has taken internal steps and reformed both its institutional framework and competences of its agents in the realm of international energy trade and security. In tandem with these changes the principle of solidarity has been acknowledged in the Treaty so as to enhance the political and economic power of the EU. The latter initiative however has been hampered by different interests and at times conflicting priorities and strategies of Member States. Secondly, the EU has endeavoured to engage with Russia at bilateral and multilateral legal platforms so as to place its energy trade with Russia in a legal footing. However, Russia continually resisted such initiatives.

Russia owns and the EU needs an invaluable commodity – energy – for their economic development and security. This mutual reliance however has not been articulated in a legal framework so as to serve the interests of the parties equitably because the demand for Russian energy is growing and the EU has not managed to diversify its energy sources or suppliers. Until this aspect of the EU-Russia energy relations changes, it will be challenging to create solidarity between Member States and to convince Russia to commit to legally binding obligations.


Turksen, U. (2012). The EU and Russia energy trade – thickening of legality and solidarity?. International Energy Law Review, 1,

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 1, 2012
Journal International Energy Law Review
Print ISSN 1757-4404
Publisher Sweet and Maxwell
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1