Rapid Turns in European Renewable Energy Policy: Advocacy and Framing of the Proposed Trading of Guarantees of Origin

FNI Report 9/2008. Lysaker, FNI, 2008, 33 p.

The EU has assumed ambitious targets and strategies for the promotion of renewable sources of energy (RES) binding to all its member states. This report examines the proposed EU-wide policy instrument designed to help achieve the targets on renewable electricity and heat - the trading of Guarantees of Origin (GO). It analyses the rise and fall of the GO trading proposal in the European policy-making machinery during 2007 and 2008. It first discusses its origins, key components and points of contention, and then examines key factors behind the policy development leading first to its development and subsequently to its  probable abandonment in 2008. Addressing these factors, the report explores first the near-term policy-making process before and after the proposal on GO trading was tabled in January 2008, focusing on processes in the European bureaucracy and how they were influenced by different interest groups and member state governments. It then looks at how competing policy frames over time have shaped the GO debate. Results show how a strong internal market frame acted as a primary driving force in the Commission throughout the 2000s to promote the GO trading instrument. The subsequent deconstruction of the GO trading proposal can be largely attributed to a) the lack of a strong lobby in favour of GO among member states and interest groups, b) the accumulated experience with and institutionalisation of national RES support policy, and c) growing general political concerns among both member states and EU bodies for supply security, innovation and competitiveness. In the end, the fall of the GO trading instrument is indicative of how the underlying political dividing line between advocates of the European internal market and guardians of national interests has moved in favour of the latter in recent years.