European Integration in Energy Policy – A Hot Issue in Parliament? A Case Study of Politicization of EU Energy Policy in the German Bundestag 2014-2019
Dijk, D. van
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From 2014 onwards, European integration in energy policy has been given new impetus with the Energy Union initiative, which further integrates EU policy domains aimed at the security-of-supply of energy, energy sustainability and an internal market for energy. This study approaches the political dimension of EU energy policy by analysing whether recent EU decision-making in energy policy from February 2014 to May 2019 has been politicized in the setting of the national parliament of Germany. The concept of politicization depicts the degree to which decision-making is discussed collectively and publicly and involves issue salience and polarization of opinions. Given the high interest of Germany in EU energy policy, European integration in energy policy is expected to matter for the Bundestag to discuss upon publicly and collectively. On the basis of minutes of the plenary and other parliamentary correspondence of the Bundestag archives, this study reconstructs the Bundestag debate on EU energy policy and sets out the politicization strategies of the German political parties that were involved in the debate. Based upon the analysis, this study concludes that European integration in energy policy from 2014 to 2019 has not been politicized in the context of the Bundestag. Although the general commitment to the Energy Union and related EU decision-making in energy policy have been debated collectively and publicly in the Bundestag over several occasions, politicization of European integration in energy policy has been limited as the debate has only incidentally proven to be a salient issue, and did not involve a polarization of opinions. This study links itself with those scholars that argue that public and collective debate can contribute to the democratic responsiveness of EU decision-making. In conclusion, this study observes that even though EU national parliaments have a role in EU decision-making, and as such might contribute to the democratic responsiveness of EU decision-making, this does not imply that national parliaments will act correspondingly. In that respect, the theoretical framework of this study helps to understand why European integration is not politicized when political parties have no incentives to do so.