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Lisbon veto rights for the Council on ergergy policy

a study on the veto powers conferred on the member states by the Lisbon Treaty

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Lisbon veto rights for the Council on ergergy policy

a study on the veto powers conferred on the member states by the Lisbon Treaty

Rechten: Alle rechten voorbehouden

Samenvatting

Poland's veto against the Low Carbon Roadmap 2050 of 9 March 2012 represents the point of departure for this research. The aim was determine the extent to which the Council of Ministers retains veto powers on legislation pertaining to their national energy mix, or whether energy policy is governed by Qualified Majority Voting within the Council of Ministers. The central question was therefore "does the European Commission play a role in European energy policy, or is it controlled by the member states?" In order to develop a fuller picture of the case study into the Polish veto against the Low Carbon Roadmap, this dissertation explores the history of European integration, with a special focus on evidence of strong intergovernmental trends in decision-making. The "empty chair crisis" of 1965 constitutes the starting point of this historical review. From this historical starting point, this thesis looks for possible similarities between France's objections to further integration in 1965 and Poland's recent veto.
The methodology used to answer this question, was desk research (using qualitative secondary data). Various academic papers, newspaper articles and books were used to gather knowledge on the subject. A descriptive approach was used to present the facts of the Polish veto and the history of European integration. Hereafter an analytical approach was used, in order to find a possible causal link between Poland's veto and prior veto's wielded in Europe's integration history. Limitations of this approach are that desk research rarely produces primary data, and that the data you get from desk research might not always be qualitative.
The theoretical framework consisted of both neo-functionalist, liberal intergovernmentalism and constructivist theories. Moravcsik's three-step model served as an important tool to decipher how domestic factors might influence member state's preferences on energy issues. This approach was used to analyse Poland's possible motivations for putting down a veto and blocking the decision making process.
Conclusions of this report pertain to the three sub-questions asked, which were necessary to answer the central question. First sub-question was "how did intergovernmentalism develop in energy policy in the Council of Ministers?" To this end, 1965's "Empty chair crisis" was examined, because it is a historic example of France slowing the integration process by abstaining from meetings. This change supports intergovernmentalist representations of EU decision making, by effectively showing the limits of the Community Method. France demanded veto rights on "very important" issues, as they were opposed to further integration. They also demanded to prolong the unanimity rule, because they were against QMV. The solution to the crisis was the Luxembourg Compromise. Although not legally binding, the Luxembourg compromise reminded the member states of their ability to stop Commission proposals: either by putting down a veto (on questions of unanimity) or by forming blocking minorities (on questions using Qualified Majority voting). No direct causal link between the Polish veto, and the "empty chair crisis" could be established. However, it seems that both France and Poland wanted to protect "very important interests" when they blocked decision making. This could indicate that both countries had similar reasons for their divergent behaviour.
The second sub-question was "how does the Lisbon Treaty confer veto powers on member states?" The dissertation shows that member states do retain veto rights on energy mix issues, and that unanimity is required to adopt Commission proposals concerning the national energy mix of the member states. This leaves a seemingly negligible role for the Commission on such issues. By looking into the Lisbon Treaty, the main research question was thus answered. The energy section of the Lisbon Treaty (specifically art. 192 (2) c) confers veto rights on the member states. Poland was used as a case in point, due to their divergent voting behaviour on the 9th of March 2012 vis-à-vis the Low Carbon Road Map 2050. The analysis showed how economic and political issues might have lead Poland to vote against the reduced CO2 emission targets in order to protect their own industries. Furthermore, energy security appears an important issue for Poland and other Eastern European states. This is a question which might not have been sufficiently dealt with in the EU, as energy negotiations seem to continue bilaterally (much to the dismay of newer member states).
Third sub-question, "might the Polish veto lead to a two-speed Europe on energy questions?" was answered in the affirmative. The dissertation explores possible ramifications of the Polish veto upon EU decision-making in the field of energy policy. Due to statements from the European Commission, it seems plausible that it will continue to propose legislation in the field of energy mix policies despite the recent veto. This, in turn, might lead to energy policy being made only by a coalition of the willing. This trend appears in other recent EU policy areas, for example with the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, where only 25 out of 27 member states decided to agree on an intergovernmental pact. Given the trends, it seems plausible that we will have a "two-speed Europe" in the field of energy mix policy with those certain member states disengaging from further integration. Time will tell if energy will be part of this "two speed Europe" as well.
In conclusion, the central question has been answered in the affirmative: the European Commission does play a role on energy issues, because they have the right to initiative proposals. However, the veto rights conferred to member states give them substantial powers to block legislation. Therefore, the Commission is hard pressed to pass legislation on energy issues, compared to issues where Qualified Majority Voting applies.

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OrganisatieDe Haagse Hogeschool
OpleidingESC Europese Studies / European Studies
AfdelingAcademie voor European Studies & Communication
Jaar2012
TypeBachelor
TaalEngels

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