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A brief survey on 'Normative Power Europe'
Celsius Note for internal use
Tobias Reichenbach, May 2008
In this brief survey, I want to outline the meaning of 'Normative Power Europe' as well as present two case studies that may or may not give evidence for the EU's normative power. These considerations are neither detailed nor complete, instead, they are meant to give a 'flavor' on these topics. 1. Introduction: Civilian, military, and normative power
''... the cold war... ended with the internal collapse of norms rather than power of force. Thus a better understanding of the EU's role in world politics might be gained by reflecting on what those revolutions tell us about the power of ideas and norms rather than the power of empirical force – in other words the role of normative power.'' (Manners 2002)
The concept of 'normative power' is very recent within political sciences. In the present form, as 'Normative Power Europe', it has been formulated and described in 2002 by Ian Manners (Manners 2002). Indeed, it is intimately connected to the emergence of the EU, and difficulties in describing the EU's international role in terms of the traditional concepts of civilian and military power.
The EU's military power is largely inhibited by the high degree of military sovereignty of its memberstates. Although the EU attempts to build up own military forces, such as the rapid reaction force Eurofor (Eurofor) or the the Eurocorps (Eurocorps), most armed forces within the EU are still controlled independently by the single member states. The difficulties accompanying this distributed control have probably been felt most severe (and keep being felt) during the Iraq war, starting by a US­led invasion in 2003. While a number of EU states, including Belgium, France, Germany and Norway, refused active participation, others, such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands and the UK joined the US coalition; demonstrating the weakness of the EU's foreign policy. On the contrary, successful military operation of the EU is taking place in Bosnia and Herzegovina via the European Union Force Althea (Eufor). Civilian power may be defined by involving the following three key features (Manners 2002): ''the centrality of economic power to achieve national goals; the primacy of diplomatic co­operation to solve international problems; and the willingness to use legally­binding supranational institutions to achieve international progress.''
In relation to the EU, civilian power has, e.g., been described as follows:
''The European Community's interest as a civilian group of countries long on economic power and relatively short on armed­force is as far as possible to domesticate relations between states, including those of its own members and those with states outside its frontier. This means trying to bring international problems the sense of common responsibility and structures of contractual politics, which have been in the past associated exclusively with `home' and not foreign, that is alien, affairs.'' (Duchêne 1973)
As Manners and others point out, similar to the military power of the EU, problems with the notion of the EU's civilian power arise as the applicability of this concept depends on ''how much a state the EU looks'' (Manners 2002). The 'normative dimension', also referred to as 'ideological power' or the 'power of ideas', has been proposed to capture an additional aspect of international impact by focussing on the ability of shaping conception of 'normal' in international relations. Concerning the EU, normative power is meant to look at the EU's ideological influence, irrespective of the EU's international identity or of how much it can be described as a (traditional) Westphalian state.
It has been argued that the normative dimension is particularly important regarding the EU. Indeed, the struggle for a 'European identity' faces the problem of integrating many different cultures that have been engaged in a violent history of wars and repressions. Common values and norms, shared across European nations, seem to be a sustainable candidate for shaping a European identity. Maybe ironically, the development of such common norms might be traced back to Europe's uneasy history: J. Habermas and J. Derrida (Habermas and Derrida 2003) stated that the history of Europe, with raises and falls of different empires, has lead to a reflexive distance of the European states to itself. According to them, this reflexive distance has caused the emergence of Kantian values.
A summary of different authors's views on the notions of civilian, military, and normative power is presented in Table 1.
Table 1: Aspects of civilian, military, and normative power. Taken from (Manners, 2002), who has used (Carr, 1962) and (Galtung, 1973).
Ability to use civilian instruments
Ability to use military instruments
Ability to shape conceptions of „normal“
2. The EU's normative base and mechanisms of norm spreading
The universal declaration of human rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 in Paris. The UDHR are part of the International Bill of Human Rights, which took on the force of international law in 1976 (Williams 1981). The UDHR was quickly followed by the convention on human rights and freedom (ECHR), formulated in 1950 under the auspices of the Council of Europe, which established the European court of human rights. The EU attempts to base their international relations on the ECHR as well as on the UDHR. Furtheron, main parts of the EU's normative basis are laid in the Treaty establishing the European Communities (TEC), the Treaty on European Union (TEU, 1992), the Treaty of Lisbon (2007) as well as a large number of additional declarations and policies.
Following Manners (2002), five 'core' norms may be extracted from the above documents:
1. Peace
2. Liberty
3. Democracy
4. Rule of law
5. Human rights
In addition, four 'minor' norms have been suggested:
1. Social solidarity
2. Anti­discrimination
3. Sustainable development
4. Good governance
These norms are further explained and summarized in Table 2.
Table 2: The EU's normative basis, taken from (Manners, 2002) Founding Principles
Tasks and Objectives
Stable Institutions
Fundamental Rights
Respect for human rights
and fundamental freedoms
Rule of law
Social solidarity
Sustainable development
Guarantee of democracy
Rule of law
Human rights
Treaty base – set out in art.
6 of the TEU
Treaty base – set out in arts. Copenhagen criteria – set
2 of TEC and TEU, arts. 6
out in the conclusions of
and 13 of Tec
the June 1993
European Council
Protection of minorities
Charter of Fundamen­
tal Rights of the
European Union
Having briefly described the normative basis of the EU, now, we want to consider mechanisms how these norms might be passed on from the EU to other countries. Indeed, only successful norm spreading turns the EU into a normative power. Below, we employ again Manners (2002) to single out 6 such different mechanisms, accompanied by a few examples. In the following sections, two more specific case studies are presented.
1. Contagion: Unintentional diffusion of ideas. An example may be found in Mercosur, the project of a common market for South American countries. The rules of integration that are found there may be influenced by the rules of the EU, a phenomenon also referred to as regional replication.
2. Informational diffusion. It results from strategic communications of the EU, such as new policy initiatives or declatory communications.
3. Procedural diffusion: Institutionalization of a relationship of the EU and a third party. Examples are European Partnership Agreements, e.g. with African countries (to be considered below), the membership of the EU in the World Trade Organization, as well as the EU's enlargement negotiations, as currently with, e.g., Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Turkey.
4. Transference: Exchange of goods, trade, aid, or technical assistance. The Phare and Tacis programmes to the East European countries may have such impact, as well as the European development fund to the Cotonu states.
5. Overt diffusion: Physical presence of the EU in third states. Such physical presence is, e.g., exerted by the EU member states' embassies, or military missions as in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
6. Cultural filter. This refers to learning and changing of social and political identity. Examples of such changes may be found in China (diffusion of democratic norms), in Turkey (diffusion of human rights), and in Britain (diffusion of environmental norms). 3. Case study I: Abolition of Death Penalty
Ian Manners, who invented the concept 'Normative Power Europe', considered the influence of the EU on the abolition of death penalty. He provides evidence that the EU has considerable impact in bringing about abolition in different countries.
In 1983 the European states formulated protocol no 6 to the ECHR, on the abolition of death penalty. It entered into force in 1985, with five ratifications. Indeed, in that year, only nine of the then 15 members of the EU had completely abolished death penalty. However, this number increased in the following years; and in 1999 the UK as the last member state abolished death penalty and ratified protocol no 6. In the Treaty of Amsterdam, it was spelt out that, by the time, all EU member states agreed on the abolition of death penalty: ''The Conference notes that the death penalty... is no longer applied in any of the Member States of the Union... '' (taken from (Manners, 2002)).
Since then, the EU is actively trying to influence other countries to abolish death penalty. For example, in 1998, the Austrian presidency wrote to George W. Bush in the specific case of Stan Faulder in Texas. Other presidencies have followed this strategy, and made a variety of specific declarations. Although, in the case of the 'super­
executioners' USA and China, these interventions do not have concrete success, they constantly raise this issue to international level.
Manners argues that the EU had considerable impact in the cases of Cyprus, Poland, Albania, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. All these countries have ceased using death penalty or abolished it between 1998­2000. Cyprus and Poland were, at that time, applicant states to the EU. In the other cases, indirect influence of the EU was very likely in play.
Countries that more recently, since 2000, have abolished death penalty are Chile, Yugoslavia, Serbia, Montenegro and Turkey. Except for Chile, direct influence of the EU on these countries, via membership negotiations, seems very plausible.
Figure 1: Usage and abolition of death penalty worldwide. Taken from
4. Case Study II: Economic Partnership Agreements
The topic of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), with respect to the concept of Normative Power Europe, was investigated by Storey (2005) as well as others (see e.g. (Goodisman and Stoneman 2004)). Here, we briefly describe and summarize their discussion.
ACP states are African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries that once have signed the Lomé convention (1975) with the EU, which is now replaced by the Cotonou Agreement (signed in Benin in 2000). The Lomé convention arranged trading and other relationsships between the EU and the ACP states. As important characteristic, it granted the ACP countries privileged access to EU markets as well as certain aid and political dialogue provisions. Under the Cotonou Agreement, the Lomé convention is, in a staggered way, replaced by EPAs between the EU and regional groupings of ACP states. One aim of the EPAs is to replace the previously privileged access of ACP countries to EU markets by reciprocal relations. The reason for this shift is, firstly, that the World Trade Organization (WTO) generally demands reciprocal relations. Secondly, it seems that the previously privileged export of the developing ACP countries to the EU has not helped the ACP economy: the ACP export to the rest of the world, as well as the export to the EU, considerably decreased between 1970 and 2003. However, evidence that reciprocal trading relations would reverse this trend is equally lacking.
Storey (2005) as well as Goodisman and Stoneman (2004) criticize the EPAs for forcing developing countries to „reciprocal“ market opening for European firms. Indeed, due to a strongly non­reciprocal relation of the EU's economy compared to the ACP ones, liberal, reciprocal market opening between the EU and the ACP states is expected to provide much benefit for EU firms, while potentially harming the ACP countries' economies. Analyzing the negotiations leading to EPAs, Storey as well as Goodisman and Stoneman arrive at the conclusion that the EU policy is driven by self­interest, instead of a promotion of ideas of social solidarity, as one might expect from a 'Normative Power Europe'. Or, as Goodisman and Stoneman (2004) write:
''It would be an act of foolish optimism to expect integrity or honesty in the EU's trade policy towards Southern Africa and the wider ACP group.'' Similarly, Storey (2005) summarizes his study as follows:
''Manners (2002) is correct to argue that Europe exercises power in the world through its ability to influence (and partially set) global opinions and norms. This is evident in the EPA negotiations but, unfortunately, the norms being promoted do not correspond to the developmental needs of African economies.''
However, the EU commission defends itself against the accusation of being driven solely by self­interest:
''EPAs are part of the overall effort to build up the economic governance framework, the stable, transparent and predictable rules necessary to lower the costs of doing business, attract fresh domestic or foreign investment and make ACP producers more diversified and competitive. This is why the EPAs must be comprehensive, dealing with all the rules and issues that concern private investors and traders... As a result, issues such as competition policy and investment rules are no luxury but fundamental factors that affect the decisions of traders and investors'' (Commission, 2005).
Figure 2: ACP countries (marked green). Taken from­World­AKP.png
5. Conclusions
Based on (Manners, 2002), we have presented a brief description of the origination of the concept 'Normative Power Europe'. We have described the normative basis of the EU, mechanisms of norm spreading, as well as two case studies. In the first, abolition of the death penalty, a normative influence of the EU on other countries seems unambiguous. The situation is more controversial in the second situation, where we have looked at European Partnership Agreements between the EU and developing countries. While critics point out a neoliberal influence of the EU, triggered by self­interest, the EU Commission defends its position. Analysis of such situations seems promising for further understanding of the EU's influence in contemporary international politics. Such an analysis will face a number of non­trivial questions, such as the role of sociality.
APC states homepage:
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Relations“, 2nd edn (London:Macmillan)
Commission of the European Community (2005) ''The Trade and Development Aspects of EPA Negotiations'',
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Hager, W, eds., A Nation writ Large? Foreign Policy Problems before the European Community (Basingstoke: Macmillan).
ECHR full text:
EPAs: see
Eufor hompage:
Eurocorps homepage:
Eurofor homepage:
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