This paper examines typical “energy paths”, i.e. the intertemporal development of the energy mixes of the member states of the European Union over 1971-2010. We apply model based clustering to detect major energy profiles and their compositional dynamics. The seven identified clusters show typical combinations of energy carriers dominating the primary energy consumption of a country. We find that countries tend to take a path towards higher quality energy mixes over time, however path inertia and dependencies arise from both infrastructure and resource endowments. Higher energy quality profiles are usually associated with higher national income and energy use per capita, supporting some evidence on the existence of a national-level energy ladder. We also find convergence in energy intensity over time, and a relationship between own resources and import dependency.