To Be or Not to Be a Normative Power: The EU's Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy in Russia

Item Reference: 
BRIGG 2013/2
Publication Date: 
Publication Place: 
Publication Language: 
UNU Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies and College of Europe
Series Title: 
Bruges Regional Integration and Global Governance Papers
Working Paper Type: 

The ‘Normative Power Europe’ debate has been a leitmotif in the academic discourse for over a decade. Far from being obsolete, the topic is as relevant as when the term was first coined by Ian Manners in 2002.1 ‘To be or not to be a normative power’ is certainly one of the existential dilemmas in the foreign policy of the European Union. This paper, however, intends to move beyond the black-and-white debate on whether the European Union is a normative power and to make it more nuanced by examining the factors that make it such. Contrary to the conventional perception that the European Union is a necessarily ‘benign’ force in the world, it assumes that it has aspirations to be a viable international actor. Consequently, it pursues different types of foreign policy behaviour with a varying degree of normativity in them. The paper addresses the question of under what conditions the European Union is a ‘normative power’. The findings of the study demonstrate that the ‘normative power’ of the European Union is conditioned upon internal and external elements, engaged in a complex interaction with a decisive role played by the often neglected external elements.