Recap: ESC-YLS Colloquium: The Future of Geopolitical Europe in a World of Energy Dependency

April 17, 2024

In the third event of the European Studies Council and Yale Law School colloquium series, Professor Anatole Boute of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Dr. Kong Chyong of Columbia University discussed the energy dilemma facing Europe. Danae Azaria of NYU served as discussant and Isabela Mares of Yale chaired the event, which took place on March 4, 2024.

Professor Boute opened the discussion with an overview of the 2022 energy crisis stemming from Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with special consideration of the disruption of Russian gas to the European Union. He detailed how Russia managed to weaponize its gas supply to Europe, which served as confirmation of the market’s relevance in responding to acute disruptions – in tandem with governmental interventions.

Regarding the crisis’s relevance for the international energy regime, Professor Boute maintained that reforms are necessary to afford states greater discretion in adopting preventive measures as a response to energy weaponization, among other things. At the same time, Professor Boute argued, the role of trade law must be upheld in order to address supply disruptions in the clean technology sphere.

Following Professor Boute’s remarks, Dr. Chyong spoke to Europe’s “great decoupling” from Russian gas. Dr. Chyong contended that, much like during the supply disruptions Europe experienced in 2006 and 2009, Europe appears to have successfully absorbed the shock of an almost complete cessation of energy supplies from Russia since February 2022.

This continued success, however, depends on several factors. For one, the EU must continue to work toward ensuring a competitive pan-European market for energy trade and solidarity between European countries to absorb shocks. Moreover, Dr. Chyong asserted that the EU must simultaneously guarantee stringent and forward-looking environmental and climate policy to decarbonize its energy supply and demand.

On the whole, the role of Russian gas in Europe is diminishing rapidly because of two primary factors: robust efforts to decarbonize and the global production increase and source diversity of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Following Dr. Chyong’s comments, he, Professor Boute, and Azaria together discussed the issues laid out and took questions from the audience. The event was held in Luce Hall.