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Legitimacy through norms: the political limits of Europe's normative power

Bickerton, Christopher J. (2007) Legitimacy through norms: the political limits of Europe's normative power. In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)

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    [From the introduction]. This paper explores the concept of 'normative power Europe' through the framework of legitimacy. Legitimacy is a central preoccupation of those analysts and policymakers interested in the EU's normative power. A recent special issue on normative power in Europe was framed around the question of how to define normative power in order to enhance its legitimacy as a form of foreign policy. In that issue, Michael Smith noted that from whatever angle we study the question of the EU's foreign policy, "the subject raises major questions about the interaction between internal developments and external structures and processes, about the boundaries of 'civilian' and normative power, and about the legitimacy claims of European foreign policy".1 Ian Manners recently listed no less than five definitions of normative power developed in order that the legitimacy of the EU's actions be judged according to an objective standard of some kind.2 An ongoing research project inquires into whether or not European norms appear as legitimate in the eyes of non-Europeans.3 This paper starts off by situating the emergence of normative power Europe within the wider context of European integration. Various conceptions of the EU as a foreign policy actor were developed in an attempt to resolve a crisis in the 'Idea of Europe' that began in the early post Cold War period. The specific concept of normative power emerged in reaction to the perceived inadequacy of various other qualifying adjectives for European power. For all its popularity, the concept has been subject to criticism ever since Ian Manners first published his seminal article in 2002. Many felt that the very idea of normative power Europe needed its own sources of legitimacy: scholars and analysts refused to accept that the prefix 'normative' should automatically put the EU's power beyond critical commentary. As a result, in the academic debate scholars have focused on possible sources of legitimacy external to the normative power concept itself. This paper analyzes in detail three such sources: cosmopolitan law as argued by Helene Sjursen, a post-colonial ethos developed by Kalypso Nicolaïdis, and a set of European social preferences elaborated by Zaki Laïdi. The paper claims that each of these attempts to legitimize the concept of normative power draw upon different concepts of political community, authority and democracy. This is instructive in terms of our understanding of the EU as a political formation. It also demonstrates that definitions of normative power are never neutral - they put forward a particular vision of politics which should be properly identified. The paper compares these sources of legitimacy and limns their weaknesses. The paper concludes with the suggestion that the lack of clarity concerning the identity of the EU as a political formation may be one of the major limitations the EU faces in its hope of becoming a central actor in world politics.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Foreign policy; cosmopolitan law; social preferences; post-colonial ethos.
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > legitimacy
    Other > integration theory (see also researching and writing the EU in this section)
    EU policies and themes > EU institutions & developments > institutional development/policy > historical development of EC (pre-1986)
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 2007 (10th), May 17-19, 2007
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2008
    Page Range: p. 22
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:49

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