by Sanam S. Haghighi. Oxford, UK, and Portland, Oregon: Hart Publishing, 2007. 510pp. Hardback. £65.00/ $136.00. ISBN: 9781841137285.

Reviewed by Nicholas P. Guehlstorf, Department of Political Science and Environmental Sciences Program, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Email: nguehls [at]


ENERGY SECURITY: THE EXTERNAL LEGAL RELATIONS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION WITH MAJOR OIL AND GAS SUPPLYING COUNTRIES responds to the claim that intensified multilateral legal implementation and enforcement is necessary to establish the guaranteed sustainable use of oil and gas in Europe. While “Energy Policy” about natural resource markets or greenhouse gas emissions is a fashionable topic in the world today, this book offers a much broader and more noteworthy contribution to international politics scholars, legal researchers, global trade practitioners, and environmental scientists. This is because Sanam S. Haghighi’s meticulous analysis describes the legitimization of European Union (EU) energy policy that goes far beyond a historical level of regional influence justified in securing and controlling energy supplies for the economic alliance of all European Member States. In fact, one of the greatest offerings made by this book lies in the chapters which calculate the external forces, programs, institutions, and markets necessary for building the EU’s internal framework laws for over twenty nation-states that have a finite supply and increasing demand of oil and gas. An example of the book’s ability to address the complexity of the European internal energy market is seen in Chapter Four, when Haghighi rudimentarily explains the confusing directives which do not mandate that countries stock or reserve natural gas just in case of an unexpected shortage, unlike when it comes to crude oil and petroleum. This multifaceted legal idea based upon the energy sources in question, in addition to the external importing and exporting countries involved, is an important element for comprehending the pluralistic economic and political competitions involved in guaranteeing availability of varied energy sources for the EU.

Research is very well collected and documented by Haghighi, but occasionally the text seems to be read better as a series of individual articles or legal essays on the foreign relations involved with a modern European policy, rather than a text of interrelated Chapters outlining EU law on a single natural resource topic. Haghighi does a more than acceptable job of discussing general energy politics in Europe and offering some brilliant cause and effect relationships about EU current and evolving directives, but occasionally the individual chapter ideas are not synthesized into the central persuasive thesis of the book. This observation is not a criticism of the author or limitation [*691] of the book, but rather the result of the ambitiousness of the project. The lack of fluidity is best illustrated in Haghighi’s inclination to list items, facts, or statistics as layers of multi-level governance rather than evidence of a social phenomenon relevant to energy as a unique international law and/or economic situation. Although she clearly identifies the book’s thesis in the introduction and conclusion, some of the Chapters drift to less than relevant details – like dollar amounts of foreign investments, or how long an administrative regulation about infrastructure has been ignored – without any advancement of the central argument. The book demonstrates exhaustive primary research and shows mastery of the secondary material necessary to become a valid resource in the field; however, the text does not always relate the research to general environmental concerns, economic problems, and political complexities involved within the distinctive policy she is meticulously examining. It is for this reason, that I think the book would be best understood and most effectively utilized as a resource of collected chapters in EU policy rather than a stand alone text of European energy politics and law. Although the book’s significant message is clear – a suitable EU security framework should be a balanced triangular legal approach with adequate attention toward commercial, political, and developmental concerns – the chapters alone merit the attention of serious intellectuals and legitimate administrators who desire a competent assessment of energy as a strategic sector of European policy.

A chapter that is an accurate illustration of Haghighi’s strong analytical skills is titled, “EU Relations with Russia, the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf Countries: The Missing Elements.” The political agreements and development cooperations already made and subtly suggested in this chapter nicely explain the confusing matrix of the EU’s economic relationships with energy-producing and energy transit countries. While outlining the association agreements in the exiting legal framework, Haghighi quietly discusses the potential shortcomings, probable scenarios of concern, and legal problems to be addressed for stakeholders involved with multi-national energy companies, ruling regimes of neighboring countries, and bureaucratic officials in Brussels. Although she maintains that there are some European partnerships or associations in the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, and Russia, Haghighi unequivocally argues these current agreements are both inadequate and erroneous attempts to secure EU demands for oil and gas. Instead she argues for numerous bilateral and multilateral agreements to be established between regional consuming and producing nation states. It is this type of research that makes her collection of chapters a valuable text on the shelf of a University professor or researcher, as well as a reference for EU officials or energy industry stakeholders.

The author implicitly argues that the law, political economy, and regional strategy of the EU energy security initiatives and directives should dismiss the moniker of “low politics,” which is usually assigned foreign economic alliances. Instead, she forces the reader to begin viewing energy security in the same echelon or paradigm as the “high politics” of military [*692] policy. Commenting on the legal rights and foreign policy of European energy stakeholders in that way is not surprising for this American political scientist, as it appears similar to recent attempts of the United States to influence China by sublimating or assimilating their Communist culture into an emerging capitalist power in the global economy. Although this example is not addressed by the author, she more precisely discusses various Ukraine, Algerian, Turkey, and Russian cases with the EU over different years and topics. The book contains many examples of informal legal arrangements and external policy alliances which are illuminating and disturbing to comparative political and environmental scientists. Unfortunately the terrorist attacks in Spain, the French environmental protests about genetically modified organisms, and the financial predicaments in Great Britain have diverted the spotlight of European public criticism away from the significance of the EU energy security campaign. Amidst the wealth of information and political focus on Global Warming and alternative fuels, this considerable book thankfully compels academics around the globe to reassess previous opinions on the oil and gas demand and supply issues, and the elite politicians and businesses involved in making, framing, and securing these deals.

© Copyright 2008 by the author, Nicholas P. Guehlstorf.