Liberal power Europe

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The European Union is best understood as a liberal power – as an actor that is composed of liberal democracies whose interests, identities and institutions motivate and constrain its policy. The conceptualization of the EU as a liberal power helps to overcome three shortcomings of alternative notions such as civilian power or Normative Power Europe: First, norms are not only understood as driving forces but also as constraints on foreign policy; second, liberal power Europe emphasizes the contested nature of norms and conflicts between norms and thus draws attention to the politics of EU external relations; third, it encourages an engagement with the vast literature on the distinctive policies of liberal democracies in international relations and foreign policy analysis. The EU’s crisis management serves to illustrate the value-added of the liberal power Europe concept.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1398-1414
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Common Market Studies
Issue number6
Early online date3 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • civilian power
  • common foreign and security policy
  • crisis management
  • liberalism
  • normative power


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