In 1991, former Belgian international minister Eyskens first described the European worldwide energy as “an financial large, political dwarf and navy worm.” This has grow to be proverbial since many see the EU’s disunified exterior relations area and missing navy integration as a supply of weak point. In 2017, authoritative scholar Moravcsik countered: “Europe as we speak is a real superpower and can probably stay one for many years to return. By most goal measures, it both rivals or surpasses the USA and China in its skill to venture a full spectrum of world navy, financial, and delicate energy.” Positioning itself within the center between these two poles, this essay makes a conceptual argument that the EU is basically an financial superpower that additionally disposes of great political energy. Whereas navy insurance policies exist, they’re overshadowed in significance. Thus, the essay subscribes to the idea of “Market Energy Europe” (MPE), put ahead by Damro (2012), bar some modifications.

To reach at that conclusion, the essay first evaluations the dialog across the character of the EU’s worldwide energy to reveal that the EU’s capability to leverage its financial weight and externalise governance guidelines are central. The part additionally takes into consideration the variability of the idea of energy. Second, a dialogue of the MPE concept serves to conceptualise what sort of superpower, if any, the EU is. Lastly, a case research of the EU’s confrontation with Russia over the 2014 Ukraine disaster illustrates the argument. Thus, the essay hopes to contribute a theoretically and empirically sound argument about what sort of energy the EU is on the worldwide stage.

The numerous camps of the European energy debate: complicated the normative energy

Moravcsik’s (2017) argument for the EU’s superpower standing provokes the query to what extent in any respect Europe acts as an influence since it isn’t a standard state. Energy is a central variable for worldwide relations (IR), and extremely elusive and relying drastically on which IR worldview a scholar employs (Andreatta and Zambernadi, p. 74, 2017). Therefore, this part evaluations some arguments concerning the nature of European worldwide energy in accordance how they relate to the three main IR theories.

Method’s (2002) well-known or notorious competition that the EU’s standing represents a “Normative Energy Europe” (NPE) on the planet sparked a flurry of responses and rebuttals. His major argument stipulates that the EU seeks to train world affect by in search of change in what’s “regular” (p. 253) in worldwide politics. The EU is efficient in altering guidelines and norms based on its personal picture, primarily via signalling instruments resembling declarations and resolutions, but in addition via campaigning. Arguably, additionally bodily coverage, like democracy help in Ukraine, may sign a normative agenda. This deal with the interstate development of norms positions Manners firmly within the constructivist and/or essential camp of IR (e.g. Manners, p.227, 2011). Nevertheless, the time period “normative” shouldn’t be misunderstood as portraying the EU as an inherently ethical and democratic norms-proponent; an moral energy. As an alternative, Manners’ (2011) assertion is merely that the EU’s energy is altering the ‘guidelines of the sport’ in direction of its preferences. Europe’s financial mannequin, political norms and diplomatic conventions are exported, none of that are inherently ethical; they’re simply European. Norms serve a function, which itself converges with the EU’s geopolitical curiosity.

After NPE, the EU has been characterised with many alternative adjectives. For instance, Zimmermann (2007) argues the EU to be a realist energy like another, as a result of the manager and its brokers are the drivers of its international coverage, dismissing home gamers like parliaments (p. 827). Arguably, although, the realist argument, whose foundations are the notions of ‘black-boxed’ states, worldwide anarchy and restricted room for the significance of norms, is the toughest to defend within the EU’s case because of its demonstrated ambitions for multilateralism and mutual financial achieve, and multi-level governance system, the place nationwide and European international insurance policies coexist and converge. Contrastingly, Wagner (2010) modifies NPE by figuring out a definite character of EU international coverage, dubbing it “liberal energy Europe”, whereas acknowledging the time period’s ambivalence and malleability (p. 1401).  Thus, he specifies NPE in direction of a extra concrete type of normative energy, representing liberal IR concept, whereby financial mutual achieve, rationalist bargaining and multi-arena diplomacy are key elements. MPE may be positioned on the intersection of constructivist and liberal IR concept.

Increasing MPE past enterprise pursuits

Damro (2012) engaged with the dialog by emphasising the financial character of EU energy. This alone locations it near the liberal IR camp, however MPE additionally assumes NPE’s perception that it’s crucial to have a look at Europe’s inside id as a way to conceptualise its actorness in IR. Nevertheless, MPE notion departs from NPE insofar as that as a substitute of normativity constituting the core of EU id, its traditionally constituted financial integration stemming from its post-war legacy does.

Therein, the EU is principally characterised by three dimensions. Firstly, the EU is the most important international direct investor, the best buying and selling energy, and a significant developmental donor. Europe’s single market is the world’s largest, and its supply of energy (p. 686); an ‘financial large’, as stipulated by Eyskens. Secondly, the EU is a robust regulator of not solely its personal mannequin of capitalism, but in addition of the world’s regulatory system by influencing establishments and third international locations via its buying and selling preferences (p. 687). Because of the attractiveness and measurement of Europe’s market, many companies or international locations have little alternative however adopting EU guidelines and can’t simply abandon this market. Moreover, the EU is even in a authorized and political place to sanction or reward noncompliant companies or states via the Fee’s and companies’ energy in competitors and commerce issues. Thirdly, the EU’s exterior relations are characterised by its many member states’ and stakeholders’ inside, competing pursuits. Consequently, the European international coverage “constitutes itself in another way at totally different occasions”, relying on which establishments and inside coalitions are pushing for which international coverage outcomes (p. 688). This essay finds that these insights maintain appreciable explanatory energy.

The EU leverages its financial weight skilfully. Meunier and Nicolaïdis (2006) make the essential contribution that “the Union will not be solely a formidable energy in commerce. It’s also changing into an influence via commerce, utilizing entry to its large market as a bargaining chip to […] extra usually to form new patterns of world governance” (p. 907). An essential clarification, as a result of this essay argues not that, beneath MPE, the EU has nothing however financial pursuits. As an alternative, it achieves additionally non-economic pursuits via mainly financial means. This mechanism may be merely termed conditionality; the concept of rewarding or sanctioning the adoption of EU financial or political guidelines. Nevertheless, they spotlight the strain between the EU’s aspirations to a legit, lawful, multilateral manner of conducting international coverage and the implications of leveraging financial weight in a quasi-mandatory, domineering manner (p. 923). There may be little alternative for small international locations within the neighbourhood however adhering to the Union’s calls for. Conditionality can thus be extremely coercive. Sicurelli (2014) provides that the normative concept to leverage commerce as a way to incentivise the associate nation to undertake humanitarian and democratic requirements is hampered by EU inside actors disagreeing over whether or not to prioritise normative or enterprise pursuits. This dynamic corresponds to Damro (2012) identification of curiosity contestation as attribute of MPE (p. 688).

Moreover, conditionality allows the externalisation of the EU’s mannequin of financial or political governance. Following Lavenex and Schimmelfennig (2009), the EU can switch its insurance policies to its companions, typically within the neighbourhood via the enlargement and neighbourhood insurance policies, and thus diffuse its norms and guidelines all through the worldwide market. For adopting EU guidelines, associate international locations achieve market entry. This confirms NPE, but in addition corresponds to Damro’s (2012) identification of regulatory energy and single market energy as defining traits of MPE (pp. 688-687). The latter holds extra explanatory energy as a result of it permits room for the truth that adopting the EU guidelines is commonly not non-compulsory for international locations who rely on its market because of geographic or political dependency. In sum, this essay agrees with this modification of conceptualising Europe as being conflicted between NPE’s normative and MPE’s financial focus. The EU aspires to many normative pursuits however realises it via financial means. This interplay may be detrimental.

How Europe levied its market energy to sanction Russia

Damro (2012) left a big analytical discount in his argument by not analyzing MPE’s implications for the safety and defence coverage area (p. 697). This paper contributes to the dialog by following his name (p. 690) for extra scrutiny of how MPE’s three central traits have an effect on coverage outcomes to totally different levels. The three traits of the EU as a single market, as a regulatory energy and as decided by curiosity contestation may be seen as impartial variables who have an effect on the dependent variable, being the form of the coverage consequence, to differing levels. Therefore, this essay briefly analyses the EU sanctions response to Russia annexing Ukraine in 2014 as a case research. It’s chosen as a result of the sanctions have been concluded as a part of CFSP/CSDP. On this area, financial measures ought to be dominated by safety means and considerations. Subsequently, represents a ‘least probably case’; If MPE holds legitimate right here as an idea, then it ought to have important explanatory energy wherever. Moreover, the case is appropriate to check Moravcsik’s (2017) superpower argument. Whereas Russia’s superpower standing is debatable, it’s important sufficient that each one main superpowers need to organise their relations with it not directly.

Euro-Russian tensions over Ukraine peaked in March 2014 when Russian forces annexed the Crimean Peninsula in response to authorities overthrows in Kiev and a pro-Russian referendum in Crimea. As this was extensively considered a violation of worldwide legislation by a lot of the worldwide neighborhood, the EU imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Russia (European Council, 2020). The EU World Technique (2016) states that the EU stays dedicated to fostering stability in Ukraine as an outpost towards Russian encroachment on the area’s safety order (p. 33) and employs a method of supporting its associate international locations via commerce advantages and monetary help (pp. 25, 39). An instance can be the Affiliation Settlement between EU and Ukraine of 2017, which entails a big buying and selling partnership. It’s telling that the majority of the EU’s disaster response in Ukraine compromised financial instruments.

Although it was determined within the intergovernmental CFSP framework and never CCP, sanctions are primarily financial measures and MPE’s three central traits are extremely relevant. Firstly, the EU drew its energy from its monumental single market. Collectively, the EU is the most important buying and selling associate of Russia when including imports and exports (Eurostat, 2020). Subsequently, market entry issues considerably to Russia. Secondly, the EU is thus ready to manage, reward and sanction Russian financial actors via conditionality. Collectively, the primary and second attribute manifest within the potent type of sanctions. They fall wanting the irreversibility of navy motion, whereas nonetheless being efficient in disrupting Russia’s financial system and capability to wage warfare, within the long-term not less than (Liik, p. 12, 2018). Many state power firms and oligarchs are blacklisted by the EU, which disrupts money flows to the Russian decision-making elites. Politically, Putin has not made sufficient good points in Ukraine or the home area, except for preserving Ukraine locked in battle, and so indications of an exit technique accumulate (Liik, p. 15, 2018). This demonstrates how MPE can exert significant influence on companions. Thirdly, curiosity contestation additionally was related for the case research. It was outstanding within the sense that curiosity contestation and the numerous differing geopolitical and geoeconomic pursuits of EU member states didn’t prohibit the conclusion of widespread sanctions, nor did it fell the sanctions regime so far (pp. 7 -11). Subsequently, when Damro (2012) requires extra analysis into how the three traits have an effect on coverage outcomes in another way (p. 690), this essay contributes that curiosity contestation impacts the end result positively when the unity of actor coalitions prevails. In sum, it’s evident in its declarations (EU World Technique, 2016) and actions that the EU is conscious of its MPE nature and has subsequently made use of its financial leverage to form its geostrategic curiosity within the area.

One other viewpoint might be represented by Mearsheimer (2014), who argued that the EU’s decisive motion is signal of its basically realist nature. In his view, Europe’s assertiveness within the Jap neighbourhood was motivated by safety considerations and prompted the Russian invasion, itself motivated by safety considerations. Subsequently, any pretense concerning the EU’s normative character have been baseless. Nevertheless, this view assumes erroneously that the EU curiosity is singular and unambivalent, simply as a standard state’s curiosity can be. Contrastingly, MPE provides extra explanatory energy by taking the curiosity contestation attribute into consideration and arguing that many alternative actors within the EU’s multi-level governance system exert affect on coverage outcomes. Attributable to this, a market-based response was the end result, and never a navy one. Because of the curiosity contestation attribute, the mandatory integration consensus to projecting navy drive in direction of Russia has been traditionally not possible so far. As an alternative, the EU externalised its governance guidelines to each Ukraine, via the Affiliation Settlement, as a way to foster resilience, and to Russia via detrimental conditionality within the type of sanctions that reduce off market entry.

In sum, MPE provides a convincing clarification for the EU-Russia battle as a result of it considers what the EU really did in response, the place its energy sources lie, and the way its inside construction impacts the ultimate coverage consequence.


To return to Moravcsik’s (2017) competition of whether or not the EU can compete with different superpowers, this essay has superior MPE as a helpful idea to approximate a solution. By advantage of its immense financial weight, the idea of the EU’s major financial energy is logical. Moreover, the empirical part reveals that the financial channel is essentially the most significant one even in intensely securitised problem areas such because the Ukraine battle. That is channelled via the three traits of MPE, being the truth that energy resides in Europe’s financial weight, its capability to manage, reward and sanction different actors, and its inside curiosity contestation affecting coverage shapes (Damro, pp. 686-688, 2012). The success in Russia proves that, sure, the EU is a, financial superpower, which crowds out the relevance of navy projection.

The essay has some limitations. For one, it didn’t interact explicitly with Moravcsik’s (2017) argument on delicate energy. A conceptualisation, quantification and evaluation of such energy is past the employed case research’s scope. Moreover, when making the purpose that the unity in curiosity contestation mattered to the sanctions regime’s success, additional discussions on the significance of such member state coherence may make clear how considerably MPE is affected by the curiosity contestation attribute. Different students might interact extra deeply with Thomas’ (2012) argument that coherence is a crucial, however not ample situation to efficient European international coverage. Extra usually, the EU is evidently nonetheless connected to its market integration historical past. Not least via commerce, the EU is now not ‘a political dwarf’ internationally, however it stays to be seen whether or not integration will progress to a level the place navy projection rivals financial leverage.


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Written at: Maastricht College
Written for: EU Exterior Relations
Date written: June 2020

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