Securitization and state encroachment on the energy sector: Politics of exception in Poland’s energy governance

Authors: Kacper Szulecki

Type: Journal Article (Open Accesss)

Published in: Energy Policy (2020) DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2019.111066 

As energy security becomes a key topic of policy debates, not least in Central and Eastern European states, which are vulnerable to gas supply disruptions from Russia, it has been suggested that EU energy policy becomes ‘securitized’. However, full securitization attempts, which not only identify threats but also call for exceptional measures to deal with them, are relatively rare in the energy sector. Why do governmental actors initiate securitizing moves aimed at implementing exceptional measures in the energy sector, and what explains the acceptance of certain moves or measures and dismissal of others? This paper looks at Poland, comparing two examples of such moves. Drawing on a primary document analysis, the paper shows how a shared socio-technical imaginary provided an anchor for the successful securitization of the nuclear project, while liberal market discourses limited audience acceptance of the securitizing move in the power sector. Securitization appears to be a mechanism triggered when core state powers over energy are challenged from below (civil society, market actors) and above (supranational institutions), particularly in already securitized contexts. The paper concludes with the value added of Securitization Theory for energy policy studies and lays out a Critical Energy Security Studies agenda, which can build on it.

Kacper Szulecki, ‘Securitization and state encroachment on the energy sector: Politics of exception in Poland’s energy governance’, Energy Policy,
Volume 136, 2020, 111066, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2019.111066.

Securitization attempts implying exceptional measures are rare in European energy policy.

Two such securitizing moves were identified in Poland.

Politics of exception in Polish energy sector are not driven by geopolitical concerns.

Securitization allows the state to safeguard its core powers in energy governance.

There is need for a research agenda of Critical Energy Security Studies.

Keywords

Energy security, Securitization, Critical security studies, Poland, Nuclear energy, Utilities

Securitization and state encroachment on the energy sector: Politics of exception in Poland’s energy governance

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