'Normative' power Europe: a realist critique

A Hyde-Price

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This article offers a neorealist analysis and critique of liberal-idealist notions of the EU as a 'normative' or 'civilian' power. It argues that structural realist theory can shed considerable light on the emergence, development and nature of EU foreign and security policy co-operation. In contrast to liberal-idealism's reductionist and explicitly normative approach to the EU as an international actor, structural realism emphasizes the systemic determinants of EU foreign and security policy. It stresses the significance of bipolarity for the emergence of the EEC/EPC, and argues that the development of the ESDP is a function of systemic changes in the structural distribution of power. This has created a unipolar world and a multipolar Europe. In this context, the EU is used by its member states as a collective instrument for shaping its external milieu by a combination of hard and soft power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-234
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


  • neorealism
  • Balance of power
  • hegemony
  • power maximization
  • European security


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