International security debates surrounding the European Union energy supply challenge commonly invoke the need for more EU hard power – e.g. getting tough on Russia or engaging directly with other exporters. This article investigates whether what might be labelled ‘soft power with a hard edge’ instead amounts to a consistent policy strategy for the EU. The central argument is that the EU has turned a weakness into a strength, and developed a set of tools that sharpen the way soft power is exercised in the energy sector. The article explores how soft power affects companies that ‘come and play’ on the EU market: the rules of the Single European Market and how they affect external firms. It also assesses the long reach of the SEM: both the gravitational ‘pull’ the SEM exerts in the ‘near aboard’, and the EU’s ‘push’ to facilitate the development of midstream infrastructure and upstream investment. The conclusion is that the EU regulatory state is emerging as an international energy actor in its own right. It limits the ways states like Russia can use state firms in the geopolitical game; and it exports its model into the near abroad thus stabilizing energy supply and transit routes.
Goldthau, Andreas and Nick Sitter. 2015. «Soft power with a hard edge: EU policy tools and energy security.” Review of International Political Economy, 22(5):941-965