Main content area

Energy dependence in historical perspective: The geopolitics of smaller nations

Högselius, Per, Kaijser, Arne
Energy policy 2019 v.127 pp. 438-444
energy, fuels, imports, politics, Europe
Studies of energy and geopolitics have been almost totally monopolized by analyses of the largest and most powerful countries in the world. This article argues that it is crucial to include the world's smaller and less powerful nations, too, into the analysis. Adopting a systems perspective, the article discusses Europe's smaller nations that have come to depend on other countries for various activities relating to their fuel supplies, and how they have sought to cope with these dependencies over time. It discusses, in particular, two overarching strategies in this context: first, investments in domestic energy sources, and secondly, efforts to cope with – rather than to reduce – energy imports. Smaller nations have often been more dependent and more vulnerable than the larger countries in the geopolitical energy arena. However, there are numerous exceptions to this pattern, especially in terms of the critical hub positions that a range of smaller nations have managed to secure in the international energy trade. Furthermore, Europe's smaller countries have had a more narrow range of methods at their disposal than the larger countries when it comes to coping with energy dependence – but perhaps not as narrow as commonly believed.