Thursday, January 29, 2009

The EU: An imperial power?

Civil Power, economic giant or incapable multi-level government system – a recent paper (pdf in German) of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) looks at publications in 2008 on the nature of Europe's foreign policy.

According to the authors, a new research trend is to apply the theoretical concept of a hegemonic or imperial power to the European Union. While the extent this concept is used to describe European Foreign Policy differs, authors applying it argue that today's hegemonic powers extend their influence by promising peace and economic development and not primarily by using military might. In this light the European Union is said to be a perfect example.

Others insist that the EU is no different from other global powers which always redefine particular interests as universal goods which will also serve the rest. The EU's self-concept of being a moral or ethical power defects from its interest-driven policy implemented through conditionality, military missions, neighborhood and enlargement policy.

A last group of publications reviewed disagrees with the whole idea of the EU as global player. According to them, the multi-level government system does not allow Europe to speak with one voice and to do more than react to crises. Although the EU has all the means to become a global player, its member states lack the political will to let this happen.

by Martin Behrens

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