Living in a Material World: A Critique of ‘Normative Power Europe’
14 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2010 Last revised: 18 May 2020
Date Written: May 1, 2020
The concept of the EU as a “normative power” combines two fundamental claims. The first of these claims is about the EU’s preferences, the idea that the EU is normatively different from other international actors and constituted by a commitment to certain constitutional norms. The second claim is about the nature of EU power, which is determined not by material power resources (military or economic), but primarily by the ability to define what passes for “normal” in world politics. While this perspective has proven influential in recent years among both scholars and practitioners, it has also been challenged by a growing body of scholarship questioning the heroic depiction of the Union as an inherently normative power, pure in motivation and noncoercive in its behavior. Across a range of issue-areas frequently considered to be “normative” in character, these scholars suggest that material interests, and material power resources, are at least as significant as normative factors in shaping the EU's foreign policy and its influence in global politics.
Keywords: European Union, foreign policy, Common Foreign and Security Policy, norms
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation