The aim of this thesis is to chart the petroleum lobby in the EU, and how oil and gas companies organise themselves in Brussels in order to influence EU policy. I also investigate how the relationship between the industry and the European Union has changed in recent years. The research question is as follows:
Who are the actors representing the oil and gas industry in the European Union, how do they work and how has the introduction of the internal energy market affected them?
I have found that the petroleum industry has a wide set of associations and informal channels that provide these resourceful actors with good access to the EU-institutions. As the industry is concentrated, most companies have multiple memberships. The oil and gas industry controls technical expertise in demand in the Commission in particular, and which gives them access.
My findings indicate that there are strong behavioural norms in place in the EU policy-making system. There are informal expectations to behaviour as well as scepticism towards the petroleum industry in the public and within the EU-institutions. These norms discipline the large multinational petroleum companies, turning them into Gentle Giants , which nevertheless have much influence given that they act in accordance with those norms.
Additionally, the internal gas market has led to a profound change in how the European gas industry is organised on the European level. The gas companies have become affected parties through the gas directives, something that has made them more legitimate partners for the EU in policy-making. At the same time, the oil associations remain the same, but as the large oil companies are gas companies as well, they may enjoy an enhanced legitimacy overall.
After charting the associations of the petroleum industry and their other channels of influence, I use three concrete policy-making processes to illustrate how they are used. First, the Auto-oil I programme will serve to illustrate how important it is to play by the rules, and not to underestimate one of the EU institutions. The Commission tried to create environmental policy with the car manufacturers and the oil industry. The European Parliament did not like to be left out and reacted. The organisation of the oil refineries responded in a way that would only make things worse. In the second example, the emissions trading directive serves to show how acting early can frame an issue. It also illustrates how important it is to present oneself as a constructive player and part of the solution rather than the problem. The third example illustrates how the second gas directive opened up a new playing field, and I will look at how a group of business association quickly and efficiently set up a system to make sure they maintained control over part of the implementation of the directive.