SECURITY 16 May, 2018 4:30 pm   
Editorial staff

Pulaski Foundation: Gas Crisis Communication – Results of Interviews with Governmental and Civil Actors in Poland

Civil actors perform an important role in strengthening the energy security. Those actors provide the tools to the researchers and educate the society through creating the information space. So, it is important that communication between governmental bodies and civil society actors really works. “Energy security and effective strategic communication between the civil and governmental actors: V4+Ukraine” is a project financed by International Visegrad Fund and implemented by Casimir Pulaski Foundation – writes Dr Natalia Slobodian, Research Fellow of Casimir Pulaski Foundation.

The project is two-folded. Firstly, it aimed to identify the existing communication interoperability problems between the governmental and civil levels. The second stage will contribute to a strengthening of the interacting capacity between multi-stakeholders in the case of an energy crisis. On the first level of research it was conducted the deep interview with officials and experts from Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Ukraine who closely works with energy security issues. In the wake, 14 Polish respondents were invited and 6 of them were interviewed, 2 respondents officially refused and 6 respondents prepared so-called “silent refusal”. The questionnaire consisted of 4 blocks: responsibility of energy security; analytics: what research do we need; the ways of communication among government, business, and civil society and finally, the platform of energy crisis communication V4+Ukraine.

It seems that all Polish respondents are solidarity that Ministry of Energy should be responsible for communication with other states of the region and also all respondents agreed with common responsibility both state and business for the energy security issues. It is worth noting that majority experts stressed that state should guarantee the sustainable development and stability of the energy sector using instruments of market and non-market influence through creating the friendly investment space. “The main goal of activities should create a legal framework for cooperation with market, but maintaining a certain state dominance”, – said one of the respondents.

Next, we asked our respondents to indicate the name of the institutions which reports they frequently read. All respondents have considered that the Centre for Eastern Studies (OSW in Polish version) offers the best regional analytics. Also, it was mentioned PISM, Pulaski Policy Papers and the official reports as well as statistics. Bruegel, BBC and Oxford University analytics are more popular between global centers and the majority of Polish respondents very seldom read the research papers of American think tanks. At once, nobody of Polish respondents mentioned the analytics of Visegrad think tanks.

When we talked about the quality, values and lacks of analytical reports research papers fresh ideas, specific information which are not available in press or Internet, analysis of local problem through global context (for example, Nord Stream 2) and using scenario-approach were highlighted like the values. Unfortunately, our respondents pointed out the lacks of research papers between them incomprehensible methodology, without information about sources or statistics, just local focus and as a result lack of a regional approach and finally, many experts prefer to talk a lot about history of problem but there isn’t any forecast.

We tried to draw how should look like the ideal analytics from the point of view Polish respondents: no more than 5 pages (2-3 pages); to highlight key words and ideas; to use facts, statistics, and arguments; to specify data sources and to make a forecast or give recommendations in the summary. One of the respondent emphasized that Polish analytics has become stronger. 10 years ago, many Polish analysts had deal with energy, economy, internal policy issues simultaneously, however now they have very strong specialization and the quality has become better.

Last but not least, we tried to indicate the current channel and style of communication between government, business and civil society. In the summary, we have the next picture: from one hand, government bodies prefer to communicate with national think tanks, dominantly through conferences and meetings but from the other hand, the experts pointed out the lack of regular contacts with Ministry of Energy and episodic cooperation with Polish energy companies. As well it was mentioned long distains between civil society and governmental bodies. In the meantime, one of the respondent noted that energy companies prefer to cooperate with think tanks with focus on PR-activity, for example, if they need to post some messages.

And finally, we asked our respondents about their opinion regarding existing fora on the regional and EU level as well as their vision of the Visegrad energy crisis platform. It seems that majority of respondents believe that there is enough institutional possibility for transparency energy dialogue both regional and European level. However, they are sure that in the case of emerging situation it should be established so-called alarm channel of communication on the expert’s level in the framework of platform “V4+”. They are confident that it should be Visegrad+ platform involving experts from other countries who have a rich research expertise in the Eastern Europe energy policy. “My commitment we should involve third actors in the platform aiming to make better analysis (USA, Japan, Germany, Austrian etc). Synergy of communication is my logic”, – underlined one of the respondents.

In conclusion, it is worth noting, there is a huge interest in Poland to develop national and regional communication in energy security. Nonetheless, it should be improved the communication between Ministry of Energy and civil society actors. Simultaneously, it should change of reporting scope from national to regional and develop policy dialogue on advanced topics in a scenario without the “gas mystery”.