East-Central Europe's changing energy landscapes: a place for geography
Energy developments in the post-Communist states of Eastern and Central Europe (ECE) have a major impact on global energy security and sustainability, thanks to this region's key geographical position between the energy-exporting states of the former Soviet Union, on the one hand, and the energy-importing states of Western and Southern Europe, on the other. At the same time, post-socialist reforms of energy industries in this region provide unique insights into the complex relations of power, economic transformation and spatial inequality that govern energy production and consumption. This paper therefore aims to provide an initial look at some of the theoretical and policy issues that underpin the emergent ‘geographies’ of energy reform in ECE, as well as their embeddedness in relations of power stemming from organisational, infrastructural and economic inequalities in the region. It employs an analysis of local news reports, policy papers and statistical data to examine the intricate institutional networks and spatial formations that have governed the energy transformation process. In broader terms, the paper aims to emphasise the important role that human geography can play in making sense of the territorial differences and frictions that have emerged during the post-socialist reform process, while challenging the idea of a ‘neat’ neoliberal transition from a centrally planned to a market-based mode of energy regulation.