Deciphering the Transformation: The EU’s Foreign and Security Policy Identity

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Defining the international identity of the European Union, particularly in so far as foreign and security policies are concerned, has been keeping scholars and observers of the EU integration process quite busy since the early 1990s. This task has become more difficult, as the cardinal rules of international politics have become exposed to significant challenges in recent years. Parallel to this are the shifting power dynamics and increasing doubts on the credibility and legitimacy of the western-led international order. This short essay makes a modest attempt at deciphering the main tenets of EU’s foreign and security policy identity, especially since the Union has been going through a radical transformation process in the Cold War era.

The main argument is that while civilian power would be the appropriate term to define EU’s identity during the Cold War era, the term normative power has better characterized the EU’s evolving identity during the first decade of the post-Cold War era. On the other hand, the attempts to help redefine the EU as a traditional/strategic power have intensified since the September 11 attacks. Moreover, with the rise of the so-called polycentric world order, the primacy of the liberal western order has been increasingly questioned, whereby non-western powers have turned out to become more assertive in manifesting their differences and spheres of influence. This in turn has pushed the European Union to apply a more traditional clout in recent years... 


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