The European Union’s (EU) new 2030 climate and energy goals were intensively discussed in 2014 during high-level meetings at the European level. Before negotiations ended in October 2014, it was unclear whether a compromise could be obtained, largely due to Poland’s ability to block a final agreement. Polish representatives on the EU Council had previously (in 2011 and 2012) vetoed three proposals for ambitious climate and energy goals, which were proposed for the Energy Roadmap to 2050. Conclusions were only reached after personal meetings between the heads of France, Germany and Poland, and many suggested that the final compromise reached at the EU level was solely due to these meetings.
“The Polish threat” was the largest potential obstacle to achieving the new EU climate and energy goals. It can be explained by the extensive activities of coal, energy and industry lobbyists, who have tried to diminish and weaken the implementation of climate friendly policies in Poland for many years. But a close comparative examination of Germany, one of the EU’s environmental leaders, reveals that the participation of a strong energy and industrial lobby in the policy-making process does not exclude the introduction of climate friendly policies at the national level. At the same time, it also does not substantially alter the country’s performance at the EU level. Since the coal and mining lobby was historically influential in both neighboring countries, different national attitudes towards EU climate and energy policies may cause one to assume that the Polish coal lobby has become even stronger, while the German one has been weakened over time. However, this might be also the result of the emergence of new actors in the policy-making process, such as the renewables industry or ENGOs. What is more, the incredibly complex system of EU governance creates a plethora of opportunities and means to influence the climate and energy policy formation process.
Building on the theory of liberal intergovernmentalism, this dissertation examines how Polish and German energy sector interest groups (both fossil fuels and renewables) try to influence EU climate and energy policies. The analytical scope of the dissertation will address the interest groups’ behaviors, their attempts to influence the decision-making process, and the concept of ‘influence’ itself. It will explain why some interest groups are more influential than others, and the consequences of choices regarding lobbying strategies or attempts to open channels of influence.
Andrzej Ceglarz has been a PhD candidate at FFU since October 2015. He studied International Relations on University of Wroclaw (Poland), having experience in number of exchanges and cooperation with universities, NGO's and think-tanks in Germany. Since 2014 he works as a researcher in Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).