The European Union: a normative or normal power?

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A feature of the European Union’s self-definition is its adherence to and promotion of particular norms and values. These are integral to academic literature that has examined the EU as a ‘normative power’ in global affairs. Much of the relevant scholarship, along with EU statements and documentation, underestimates or overlooks that what the EU does not do, or does not succeed in, may be as significant as what it does do and does succeed in. A policy area where evidence to support that the EU’s motivations and influence are not primarily normative continues to accumulate is that of energy security. Energy represents a more serious test of the EU’s capacity and commitment as a normative power than asymmetric relationships in which it is by far the stronger party or when the issue does not threaten its vital interests. Energy needs expose the limited character of the EU’s exertion of normative power (capacity) and its political will to do so (commitment).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-128
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Foreign Affairs Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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