Normative Empire Europe : the European Union, its borderlands, and the 'Arab Spring'
Title: Normative Empire Europe : the European Union, its borderlands, and the 'Arab Spring'
Author: DEL SARTO, Raffaella A.
Citation: Journal of common market studies, 2016, Vol. 54, No. 2, pp. 215–232
Focusing on the EU's relations with its periphery, this paper takes issue both with persistent ‘normative’ conceptions of the EU's international role in the European Studies literature and with the constructivist–rationalist divide in IR theory. The conceptualization of the EU – a vast, composite and ever-expanding entity with ‘fuzzy’ borders – as an empire of sorts bridges the theoretical divide and offers a powerful explanation of the EU's behaviour vis-à-vis its vicinity. Through the transfer of rules and practices beyond its borders, the EU is indeed engaged in ‘normative’ policies, which however primarily serve the security and economic interests of the EU and its Member States. Thus, the EU's (allegedly) norm-based behaviour is in itself a utility-maximizing strategy, which also serves the construction of a normative identity. The EU's response to the Arab uprisings serves to illustrate the argument, with the concept of ‘empire’ resolving the puzzle of seemingly inconsistent EU policies.
Article first published online: 30 JUN 2015
Grant number: FP7/263277/EU
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