Never waste a good crisis? A thesis research on changes in EU energy policy discourses in the 2022 Ukrainian war context
García Lorenzo, Lorena
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Why do policy-makers often decide it is good timing to change policies deeply right after the start of specific crises or external shocks? This research on discourse analysis focuses on the 2022 Ukrainian war to explore what are the causal logics and mechanisms that are responsible for policy change during critical junctures, and which led to the revolutionary joint belief shift of becoming energy independent from Russia. With the help of Discourse Network Analysis and semi-structured interviews with EU officials, this paper offers a relevant selection of primary and secondary data sources to comprehensively elucidate how involved actors’ discourses and sets of beliefs on EU energy policy have changed over time around the subject. This empirical approximation, therefore, allows to thoroughly map actor’s congruence and affiliation networks, with the logic of identifying dominant discourses throughout three phases –from September 2021 to July 2022. Findings in this research rightfully show that, for the 2022 Ukrainian war, players involved in EU energy policy were capable, in the end, of modifying their beliefs and embracing new and innovative ideas in favour of energy independence from Russia. For this to happen, important political (and symbolic) events and initiatives were needed in order to activate a novel joint belief shift at the heart of the EU. Likewise, these actors successfully convinced more and more players in favour of this, making them to defect from their previous ideas and discourses. This research, therefore, expands specific knowledge on the causal study of critical junctures, confirming that institutional change is caused if different conditions apart from the external shock itself –critical antecedents, productive conditions, or joint belief shift, among others– are met. In addition, it complements comprehensive studies on EU integration, and supports the general belief that the EU is, as politician J. Monnet once proclaimed in 1976, ‘forged in crisis’.