The EU’s Development Policy: Empirical Evidence of ‘Normative Power Europe?’

Part of the Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics book series (PSEUP)


In one of his most recent publications, Ian Manners boldly states: ‘The EU has been, is and always will be a normative power in world politics’ (2008b: 45). Acknowledging the critical theoretical precept that ‘theory is always for someone and for some purpose’ (Cox 1981: 128), Manners enjoins scholars to pursue normative approaches to the study of the European Union (EU) in world politics. Interestingly, in this piece examining the normative ethics of the EU, Manners has arguably come the closest yet to positioning Normative Power Europe (NPE) as a theoretically grounded, empirical framework of analysis, and in the spirit of critical and reflective scholarship, it serves as a useful reminder that normative and empirical approaches are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, it is important to recall that his seminal article of 2002 presented an extensive empirical case study to substantiate his claims about the normative power of the EU – namely, the diffusion of norms opposing the death penalty and its resultant abolition in the EU and candidate countries such as Turkey. Nonetheless, much of the commentary and discussion of NPE has centred on its further conceptual and theoretical articulation as well as critiques and contestation of it rather than its empirical validation. Now, with Manners’ proposal of a tripartite method for assessing the EU’s principles, actions and impact, it is arguably the case that NPE is evolving towards a more rigorous analytical framework and perhaps one of the most innovative and holistic research programmes in EU studies. The objective of this chapter is to demonstrate as much by drawing from Manners (2002, 2006c, 2006e, 2008b), Manners and Whitman (2003) and Whitman (2006a) and then deploying these cumulative analytical insights to empirically investigate the concept of NPE as it applies to a relatively understudied area of the EU’s external relations: development policy.


European Union United Nations World Politics Gross National Product Gross National Income 
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© Vicki L. Birchfield 2011

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