Living in a Material World: A Critique of ‘Normative Power Europe’

10 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2010 Last revised: 30 Nov 2015

Mark A. Pollack

Temple University - Department of Political Science; Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Date Written: November 25, 2015

Abstract

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

Pollack, Mark A., Living in a Material World: A Critique of ‘Normative Power Europe’ (November 25, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1623002 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1623002

Mark A. Pollack (Contact Author)

Temple University - Department of Political Science ( email )

461 Gladfelter Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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