European Union Energy Security : the Role of North Africa

Looking forward to our June 11 breakfast on the Mediterranean security challenges, Nicolas Mazzuchi (Associate researcher at IRIS, Geoeconomist, founder of Polemos Consulting, lecturer at HEC Paris, Science Po Lille and Ecole de Guerre Economique) resumes very well the European Energy challenges in his article in the first issue of the Geostrategic Maritime Review, Fall 2013.

Herewith an extract of the introduction of the article :

Since its creation, the energy issue has always been the center of Europe’s concerns. From the ECSC to the current European Union, energy has unleashed the passions of member states resulting in a careful avoidance of a “Europe of energy” like what happened to “the European defense”. The subject is highly complex. Firstly, the problem of country-specific energy mix broadly differs on the old continent and it is unclear how to harmonize positions as far apart as the two neighbors and major continental powers, France and Germany. Be it in nuclear, oil or renewable energies, there is no typical European energy profile.

Nuclear issues and the fight against climate change – even after the adoption of the “20-20-20” package – remain the main bones of contention among Europeans. However, if the old continent’s countries can agree on one thing, it’s on their glaring weakness in terms of fossil fuels as they are among the world’s largest per capita consumers of oil and gas. The use of these fossil fuels going beyond mere power generation but extending to domestic, industrial and transport consumption needs, Europe, given its level of economic development, shows extreme dependence on fossil fuels that it produces in very small quantities.

Indeed, within the exception of the North Sea countries (Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom), the European Union has no conventional oil and gas resources and is forced to look to its neighbors for supplies. If relations between Russia and Europe on the one hand and between Europe and the Persian Gulf countries on the other hand have been particularly well studied in geo-economic terms, those between Europe and the Maghreb have been as yet insufficiently addressed. It is important to ask what the role of North African countries is in European energy security and how it will evolve? Similarly, in a year marked by recent political unrest, how do European countries apprehend the “Arab Spring” changes ?”

To continue reading from page 61:

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