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EU energy policy and national gas markets : the role of French and German governments and gas industries at the European, national and regional levels

University Of Oslo
Publication Date
  • Vdp:240
  • Political Science


This study is founded on theoretical and conceptual models of institutional change. I attempt to chart the institutional changes placed on the French and German gas markets as a result of the European Union’s liberalization policies in the gas market in the period 1998-2003. I ask how the current market structures diverge from the simplified institutional arrangements of corporatism in Germany and state-dirigisme in France. My theoretical framework rests on New Institutional Economic Theory. I employ the main concepts of New Insitutional Economic Theory in identifying my dependent variables. My methods of analysis are based on the multi-level governance perspective, which allow me to chart institutional dynamics at the supranational, national and subnational levels. This study’s central research question asks: What transformations have occurred to the institutional structures between the gas industry and governments of the French and German gas sectors as a result of the European Union’s liberalization of the energy market in the period 1998-2003? In answering the study’s central research question, I attempt to address two subquestions: 1. Do the relationships between governments and gas industries still function as corporatism in Germany and state-dirigisme in France? If not, how can the new functioning relationships be described? 2. Do the transformations characterize complete unified changes in France and Germany? Or has the Europeanization of gas policy decomposed the nation-state so that differing transformations have occurred at European, national and regional levels? In responding to this study’s central research question I have arrived to the following conclusions: The holistic institutional structures of state-dirigisme in France and corporatism in Germany that have traditionally defined the relationship between governments and the gas industry in the French and German gas sectors have been dissected into three distinct levels. At each of these three levels, institutional transformations with their own policy considerations, influences and ultimately, separate institutional structures are found. State-dirigisme in France and corporatism in Germany no longer portray the unitary and unified institutional arrangements present in both countries. The French and German supranational levels are now defined by the superior institutional capacity of strong EU organizations in opposition to national and subnational organizations operating in Brussels. The gas sectors of the French and German national levels are characterized by institutional arrangements defined by the qualitative and quantitative clauses of the 1998 and 2003 directives. I term this institutional arrangement apparent in the national gas sectors of France and Germany, regulated neo-liberalism. Because negligible institutional transformation has occurred at the subnational level, the traditional institutional structures of corporatism in Germany and state-dirigisme in France at the subnational levels have remained intact as of 2003.

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