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Andreas Raspotnik

Since 2008, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament have started to develop a distinct EU policy for the Arctic region. Although the EU’s Arctic policy toolkit rests on a strong regional foothold, a single Arctic policy of the European Union has not yet been developed. Moreover, while the position of the EU’s three main institutions have been gradually converging, the policy is still emerging with the actors being incapable yet of proposing a clear-cut overarching European concept for the Arctic region. Up to now the European Union has not set out a clear statement of its northern regional ambitions – a distinct EU–Arctic narrative or single organising idea. It has also failed to become an observer to the Arctic Council.

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Andreas Raspotnik

Over the last decade, the Arctic region has reappeared on the international radar. Due to global warming and a literally melting Arctic Ocean, the region’s resources and maritime transportation opportunities have attracted the interests of stakeholders from within and outside the circumpolar North. It was assumed that increased international attention would change the geostrategic dynamics in the region and eventually lead to major power competition over regional resources, power and authority. Yet, during the period the Arctic states have strengthened the regional governance framework and effectively cooperated on a multilateral level. Also, an initially generated hype over the region’s economic opportunities could not stand up to scrutiny and a globalised reality check.

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Andreas Raspotnik

With the Arctic region being a sui generis neighbourhood for the European Union, the Arctic region raises an interesting question about the extent of the EU and how to gain regional credibility and legitimacy via which geopolitical discourse. Based on distinct geopolitical ideas, a particular regional discourse, the aim to wield organisational authority in the Arctic and the use of technological devices, the European Union has attempted to evolve as a legitimate actor in the Arctic region.

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Andreas Raspotnik

The European Union has often been described as an external Arctic actor. However, the EU has a strong Arctic foothold and multiple links to the Arctic region, on geographical, legal, economic, environmental, research and regional development-related levels. The EU’s Arctic credentials emphasise that the EU is part of the Arctic, linked to the Arctic, affects and is affected by the Arctic. In fact, these linkages act as proof of a particular EU Arctic identity, underlining that the Union’s stakes in the region do not only fall on calculations of geographical presence. Eventually, the EU constitutes one distinct ‘Arctic reality’.

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Andreas Raspotnik

How did the European Union try to construct a regulated EU space in the Arctic and evolve as a geopolitical subject? The interaction between presence and policy exemplifies that geographical Arctic presence is not a prerequisite for regional influence and related capabilities and actorness. The EU has not yet been fully accepted at the Arctic governance table nor was it able to create an enhanced Arctic legitimacy in Europe in order to eventually place the region more prominently on the EU’s agenda. Although both climate change and research efforts serve as Arctic access points, this nexus could not have been materialised as a single organising idea to become an Arctic policy driving force. Moreover, the EU acts as a sui generis geopolitical subject in the circumpolar North.

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Andreas Raspotnik

The Arctic is a region that has seen exponential growth as a space of geopolitical interest over the past decade. This insightful book is the first to analyse the European Union’s Arctic policy endeavours of the early 21st Century from a critical geopolitical perspective.
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Andreas Raspotnik

In recent years, the Arctic region has reappeared as a centre of world politics and attracted the interest of stakeholders from within and outside the circumpolar North. The region is literally melting and the term ‘Arctic geopolitics’ has become a popular catchphrase to illustrate the Arctic’s status quo and its allegedly fluid future. During that time the European Union also discovered its Northern neighbourhood. Concerned about an unstable Arctic region and related spill-over effects reaching Europe, the EU has shown considerable interest in having a determining influence on future regional developments. It envisioned an Arctic future alongside its own conceptualisation of world order, rule of law and good governance.

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Andreas Raspotnik

For over a century, classic geopolitics has highlighted geographical variables as instrumental for an actor’s foreign policy behaviour. Although academically not trendy, it remains a popular approach to simplify complex global relationships. Critical geopolitics challenges this apparently straightforward correlation between geography and power. It argues that the assigned causal relationship is a constructed one for a very specific purpose in order to authorise an actor’s actions in a certain region. Recently, these critical voices have started to explore the European Union’s foreign policy behaviour and its distinct geopolitical nature. Accordingly, the European Union has developed geopolitical ambitions alongside its own conceptualisation of world order, core values, rule of law and good governance. The related discourse emphasises the Union’s globally stabilising and democratising role as an international actor.

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Pierre Bocquillon and Aurélien Evrard

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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Helge Jörgens, Eva Öller and Israel Solorio

In the second half of the 2010s, the transformation of the energy systems of the European Union (EU) and its member states towards a greater incorporation of renewable energy sources (RES) has come to a crossroads. While the 1990s and most of the 2000s witnessed a rapid increase in policies and programmes aimed to promote the production and consumption of energy from RES, and an equally rapid growth of the share of RES in national and European energy mixes, since the late 2000s the speed of transformation has slowed down considerably and instances of policy dismantling are becoming more frequent. Drawing on the rich empirical and analytical background of the book’s country studies, this concluding chapter adopts a comparative perspective in order to identify more general patterns of Europeanization and policy change in the renewable energy policy domain over the past decades. Focusing on the development and implementation of major renewable energy directives in the electricity and biofuels domains, the chapter sheds light on the complex patterns of renewable energy governance in the European Union, paying particular attention to the processes of bottom-up, top-down and horizontal Europeanization, as well the domestic drivers of (and obstacles to) transformative policy change. The empirically rich comparative analysis furthers our understanding of the structural and practical barriers that a RES-based energy transition in Europe and abroad is currently facing and sheds light on strategies and best practices for future renewable energy policy in the European multilevel polity. Keywords: biofuels policy, bottom-up Europeanization, horizontal Europeanization, renewable electricity policy, renewable energy policy, top-down Europeanization