European energy security has recently emerged as an important topic of scholarly attention. Many studies have scrutinised the political and institutional innovations triggered by the establishment of the European Union internal energy market and external energy policy. However, the literature indicates a particularly striking gap between growing research and concept development, and only recently have efforts been made to analyse this current dynamic more accurately. By focussing on the security of gas supply and liquefied natural gas development in France, Italy and Spain, and extending the model of the catalytic state to the energy-security realm, this article contributes to the empirical and conceptual debate. In particular, the article argues that the catalytic state model, which emphasises the active role of governments in a liberalised market structure and their wide participation in a networked pattern of energy diplomacy, is better equipped than the regulatory state model to capture the new European politics of energy security.