Chapter 9: Complying with, resisting or using Europe? Explaining the uneven and diffuse Europeanization of French renewable electricity and biofuels policies
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In the 2000s France adopted strong policies to support the development of renewable energies; in particular, a Feed-In Tariff system for renewable electricity as well as a biofuels obligation. Yet, in the power sector, it has failed to set in motion the large-scale deployment of renewable energy technologies and repeatedly fell short of its European commitments. The development of renewable electricity has been hampered by the structural, institutional and ideological dominance of a centralized energy model based on nuclear energy. Biofuels support policies have been more successful, mainly because of the importance of the domestic agricultural sector, establishing the country as a European leader. European renewable and biofuel policies have impacted on French domestic policies, although not necessarily in a strictly top-down fashion and often in indirect ways. This chapter explores the role of top-down, bottom-up and horizontal dynamics of Europeanization in the evolution of French renewable energy policies. Through an actor-centred political sociology approach, the authors look at the way domestic actors have strived to shape, adapted to and strategically used policy developments at the European level. This approach enables them to assess in a more nuanced manner the differential impact – and limits – of the Europeanization of French renewable electricity and biofuel policies. Keywords: biofuels policy, Europeanization, France, renewable electricity policy, renewable energy policy, usages of Europe

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