Southern Laggards or Misfits? A comparative assessment of energy policy Europeanization Open Access Deposited
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The concept of “Southern lag” describes the lack of compliance of Southern European countries with EU law which has had increased salience after the 2008 eurozone crisis. This article identifies the most binding constraints on energy policy, a previously overlooked area in the Southern lag debate. Two factors make the evaluation of the Europeanization of energy policy critical: first, the energy union is a key objective of the EU and understanding the constraints to compliance is essential for its success. Second, EU energy policy objectives provide concrete goals that make measuring Europeanization easier in terms of actual policy outcomes . This article first identifies the key explanations of this Southern lag that scholars have proposed. Then, it evaluates and compares the levels of compliance of Greece and Austria with EU energy policy objectives. By contrasting the empirical policy outcomes with the predictions of the various theories of Europeanization, this article establishes that the level of compliance is mostly determined by the level of misfit. A policy has a high misfit when it has high political and economic costs associated with its implementation. Furthermore, this comparative analysis introduces the importance of geography in affecting the level of misfit in energy policy. This result implies that the most successful strategies for Europeanization will be focused on bringing down the level of misfit by tailoring goals and policies to each country’s previous conditions.