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3.2.2 Normative goals and interests

As a logical continuation, the principles and norms bring us to the goals and interests which are shaping the nature and identity of any international actor. In the case of Normative Power Europe, the very basic goal is suggested to be universal promotion of its principles and values. In the previous chapter we have ascertained that these principles and values have normative character which leads us to presume the normativity of goals and interests as well. However, scholars do not have an unequivocal vision on this matter either. That is why below I am intending to elaborate on this question by including a variety of ideas proposed and defended by scholars.

The issue of normative goals is also important particularly for the reasons of our empirical part that is focused on a country which is economically attractive for Europe. It is common knowledge that actors usually tend to pursue physical goals – economic, geostrategic, and military – in their foreign policies. Scholars classify this range of physical goals as non-normative in contrast to normative goals which are the values pursued in external relations. Thus, a clear distinction should be made between values and interests.

One interpretation of this view, explained by Smith (2001: 196-8), points out that the emphasis on norms in the EU’s relationships with external world in fact implicates economic or strategic interests. In other words, genuine interests are usually disguised under the veil of norms and values. Youngs on the other hand, suggests that both normative interests and strategic goals are blended in the European foreign policy projection. And in order to evaluate the role of each, combination of rationalist and structuralist approaches is necessary. By this logic he explains the pursuit of strategic interest – stability, in Middle East and Russia - when the EU supported Yasser Arafat and Boris Yeltsin respectively, and instrumental use of human rights issues for politically motivated projects in the neighbouring regions (Youngs 2004: 427, 429).

Conversely, Diez argues that argumentative behaviour rather than strategic calculations should be taken into account when one tries to distinguish between norms and strategic interests. Indeed, stability, overviewed as a strategic interest, by its nature can be as normative as human rights. By the same token, instrumentalism attributed to EU’s supportive programs for like-minded NGOs, in fact, does not deprive them of primary normative goals – diffusion of norms and values (Diez 2005: 625).

General overview of what we have discussed above allows us to assume that any contemplation on Normative Power Europe is derived from the ideational focus on EU identity and its external role. However, such ideational focus does not imply the absence or ignorance of realistic power politics.11 Analysts do not write off realist self-interest. Rather they are coming to a mutual understanding that rationalist approach does not embrace all aspects of EU’s international image and stance. Constructivist logic was designed to reconcile the dichotomy of instrumentalist actions and normative ethics by explaining how actors’ interest-motivated policies are socially imbued by deep rooted values (Wendt, 1999: 371).

However, within the Normative Europe human rights have also acquired direct strategic connotation, according to Youngs. There is a subtle difference here between norms themselves being in the EU’s interest, and their exploitation as a normative cloak to increase the effectiveness and legitimacy of external polices. An ascending indication of the post-Cold War period has been the development of new security concepts binding western strategic interests to promotion of human rights and political transformations in the neighbourhood. These emerging “comprehensive” security doctrines have ascribed human rights an essential role in overcoming international instability, restraining unregulated migration flows and taming radical thoughts. Crucially, this generally recognized philosophy of proactive security has invested EU human rights policies with particular features, related to the tactics employed and type of rights encouraged; the strategic conditions in which human rights are advanced; and the institutional biases within EU policy-making (Youngs, 2004: 421-422).

Considering such complexities in defining genuinely normative goals in actors’ foreign policies, Tocci suggests more clear-cut interpretation referring to so called “milieu” goals, which evasively might be related to one’s specific interests but simultaneously they concern a wider international environment. The author particularly highlights the importance of international law, organizations and regimes in maintaining and regulating this milieu by providing a normative framework that binds the behaviour of all actors. This law-based frame helps to reduce risks of coercive imposing one’s specific interpretation of norms on others. (Tocci, 2008: 7-8).

To conclude, this overview comprising various viewpoints from different angles does not allow us to make a clear-cut judgment that that the Normative Power Europe pursues solely normative interests and goals which is to promote and implement normative principles internationally. Rather, the normative EU has multiple interests and goals including more pragmatic ones. However, in the eventual outcome, according to NPE, those pragmatic interests should invoke secondary normative implications. This inference is particularly useful when the normative initiatives of the EU – the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership – will be analysed. In the face of ambiguities about the rationale and actual intention behind the establishment of the regional approaches, the conclusion we have drawn here can support or deny the allegations emphasizing either pragmatic or normative interests behind.

3.2.3 Normative mechanisms and actions.

Having a normative basis at disposal and projecting relevant goals of promoting them universally do not make the EU a normative power. The next crucial element in the chain of normative components of NPE is the mechanism of achieving the ends in compliance with norms and values it relies on. In other words, in this chapter my purpose is to identify how EU diffuses norms.

In practice, diffusion of normative values and promotion of human rights and democracy may be guided by employment of a wide range of instruments. However, considering the peculiarities of a normative power explored in the third chapter we can conclude that EU is consistently making stress on non-coercive methods of actions. Therefore, the option of using military force to impose particular norms on the third parties should be dismissed without hesitation. But on the other hand, the EU represents a massive economic power that provides a capacity to deploy a variety of economic tools to affect the behaviour of other actors. But to what extent such economic tools may be considered ethical and efficient in normative terms is quite disputable. For this reason, in this chapter I am focusing on those solely normative means of diffusion, while leaving economic mechanisms and conditionality to be explained separately in the next chapter.

Manners, while designing Normative Power Europe, refers to “idée force” (Duchene), “power over opinion” (Carr), “ideological power” (Galtung) in order to explain specific identity of Europe that stands in contrast to military and economic concepts.12 Following this logic, several authors and particularly Manners have identified such mechanisms as persuasion and cooperation, joint ownership and engagement as being “normative” in comparison with sanctioning, strict conditionality or military action where coercion, although in the cases of the first two only instrumental, prevails. In addition to this, above mentioned “more normative” mechanisms are generally more effective in diminishing the risk of imposing pretended “universal” norms by more powerful actors and against the demand and will of the people in third countries. Thus, aforementioned methods allow for and are stimulated by incentives which are “other-empowering” rather than “self-empowering” (Manners, 2006).

When talking about instruments in international relations, we presume that they are placed within provided international legal boundaries. This feature refers to all instruments regardless of their nature. However, considered within the normative power concept legality of instruments becomes an added value. First, legal framework – international law and external commitments of states derived from it – sets the primacy of right and consequently curbs the power of the strong, thus, helping to maintain a balance in the international system. Second, it safeguards that decisions and choices made by actors are based not solely on political motives, but rather confined to legally justifiable acts (Tocci, 2008: 11).

Mechanisms of diffusion that have gained a wide recognition as normative tools include persuasion, contagion, informational diffusion, procedural diffusion, transference, overt diffusion and cultural filter. Persuasion serves as a broad concept embodying more concrete tools such as public diplomacy, information campaigns and propaganda. Besides, Forsberg (2011: 1196) includes in this category informational diffusion, which was designed by Manners as a separate one. According to Manners (2002: 244), informational diffusion is the outcome of strategic communications occurring between the parties. These can be in the form of declarative communications, initiatives put forward by the EU presidency or the introduction of new policies. Generally, persuasion mechanisms rely on the efficient use of articulate rhetoric and the power of personal attraction.

“Contagion” stems from unintentional diffusion of norms from the EU to third countries. Coombes (1998: 237-8) names this phenomena “virtuous example” exporting its integrational practices abroad. Forsberg uses “the power of example” or “model power” to label the same mechanism. The essence of this mechanism is that the EU stands as a model for others to follow and consequently others imitate best practices of the EU. This process of “contagion” takes place as part of socialization being transmitted through contacts established between parties.13 For Manners (2002) and Zielonka (2008) this mechanism is the most normative among all.

Another normative mechanism is “procedural diffusion” classified as such by Manners (2002: 244). However, Forsberg uses another term for the same mechanism – “invoking norms”. Substantially, regardless of the terminology used, both of them stem from the inclusion of normative elements into institutionalization of relations between the EU and third parties through bilateral agreements, inter-regional cooperation documents or membership prospects. What Forsberg (2011: 1197) especially underlines in this method is the ability to invoke these normative clauses in documented relation by activating the commitment of participating parties. Even a simple physical presence of the EU in third countries in the form of the embassies of Member States, special representatives of the EU, monitoring missions or Commission delegations can be considered as a normative method labelled as “overt diffusion” by Manners (2002: 245).

Normative power acts not only as a promoter of existing norms, but also a changer and creator. For this reason, the ability to shape the discourse of what is normal is another effective method ultimately contributing to a successful diffusion of these norms. As an element of the normative discourse “cultural filter” facilitates acquisition and adaptation of norms.

Last but not least, intensive trade relations, provision of technical assistance by the EU and exchange of goods and services between the EU and third countries. Such economic cooperation exports European community’s norms and standards, in other words “transference” of norms takes place14. However, this mechanism of raises concerns about distortion of its normative nature as the diffusion is being backed by financial rewarding or sanctioning. The (ir)relevance of economic mechanisms for normative power will be discussed in the next chapter.

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