Energy law

McHarg, Aileen; Busby, Nicole and Zahn, Rebecca, eds. (2017) Energy law. In: Studying EU Law in Scotland During and After Brexit. Scottish Universities' Legal Network on Europe, [Glasgow], pp. 69-74.

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Although two out of the three founding treaties of what is now the European Union (EU) – the 1951 European Coal and Steel Community Treaty (which expired in 2002) and the 1957 European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) Treaty – had energy at their heart, EU energy law was limited in its scope and impact until the 1990s, with early interventions largely focused on (nuclear) safety and maintaining security of supply. In general, with energy security being regarded as closely linked to national security, Member States jealously guarded their sovereignty in relation to energy policy, and energy industries were mostly organised on national lines, often as publicly-owned monopolies. Things began to change in the late 1980s and 1990s as a result of two pressures. First, the desire to complete the EU internal market, by addressing indirect distortions to competition such as energy costs, coincided with a worldwide shift in energy policy away from public ownership and monopolisation towards privatisation and liberalisation. Relying on general competition law and free movement powers, the Commission moved to liberalise downstream gas and electricity markets, initially via a litigation strategy and subsequently through three successive waves of legislation (in 1996/98, 2003, and 2009).