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State Responsibility and Community Interest in International Energy Law: A European Perspective

Danae Azaria

Keywords: State responsibility; international energy law; World Trade Organization; pipeline treaties; human rights

Treaties dominate international energy law, meaning the rules of public international law that govern energy activities and their effects. This raises the question about the relationship of treaties, and particularly those on energy trade, with the law of international responsibility. This article uses a European angle to contextualise the importance of this question. EU Member States are major oil and gas importers from third states. The EU and Member States are party to treaties with third states that apply to energy trade, carriage and investment. Whether treaty obligations, undertaken and owed to the EU and/or Member States vis-à-vis third states, are of bilateral, interdependent or community interest nature determines whether the EU and/or a Member State have standing to invoke the responsibility of a third state for a breach of an energy-related obligation as well as their remedial rights and the means by which they may implement responsibility. At the same time, because energy access is vital for states, suspending compliance with obligations in the energy sector is often preferred as a permissible response to wrongfulness carrying significant effects and persuasiveness. The nature of obligations of international energy law may determine whether suspending compliance with such obligations can be a lawful countermeasure either by the EU and/or Member States against a third state, or by a third state against the EU and/or Member States.

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