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.
- civilian power
- common foreign and security policy
- crisis management
- normative power