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European Union

Before answering the question whether the EU should focus on being a civilian, normative, or military power, it is important to establish how these different forms of power have historically manifested in the EU's policies and activities.
Conceptualising the terms 'civilian', 'normative', and 'military' are important in any analysis where these terms are used to describe the activities of EU's. Maull's (1990) view of a civilian power includes the employment of "solidarity with other societies, and a sense of responsibility for the future of the world - and particularly the global environment". (p.106) It is important to note that Maull's analysis of the exercise of civilian power is quite restrictive as it relates to the state or the exercise of national civilian power. Thus using a 'statist' perspective of the exercise of civilian power in the context of a supranational EU, would have its possible limitations. Vital lessons can however be drawn from his analysis and can be transposed into the EU's experience.
Manner's (2002) conception of the EU as a civilian power is interpreted primarily in economic terms. Simply put, civilian power can be said to be the exercise of non-military power and would include "economic, diplomatic and cultural policy instruments." (Smith, n.d. p.1) Smith's conception of civilian power would thus exclude any use of the military, even if the military were used in situations of peace-keeping, whether armed or unarmed. To Smith (n.d.) even though the military can be used in unarmed peace-keeping situations, they have also been trained to kill and thus such an activity cannot be said to be civilian.

Smith (n.d.) further identifies four core elements in the exercise of civilian power - "means; ends; use of persuasion; and civilian control over foreign (and defence) policymaking". (p.2) Consequently, in employing civilian policies, the means and the ends of those policies must be non-military, with persuasion (and not coercion) being the main instruments of achieving policy objectives.

Based on the above conception of civilian power, Smith (n.d.) has argued in relation to the EU that: " clinging to the notion of civilian power EU not only stretches the term 'civilian' past its breaking point, but also tends to induce excessively rosy-eyed views of the EU as an international actor. 'Civilian' often means 'good', and deploying the 'civilian power EU' argument can close down critical analysis of actual EU foreign policy activities". (p.1)

With regards to concepts of normative power, Manners (2002) views the EU's normative power as its capacity to mould or influence notions of what constitutes 'normal' in politics at the international arena. This exercise of normative power is very evident in the EU's relationship with Africa. The Council of the European Union has for instance stated that "Europe has a strong interest in a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Africa. Our strategy is intended to help Africa achieve this." (quoted by Scheipers and Sicurelli, 2007, p.440)

The EU's normative ...Show more

Summary

The metamorphosis of the EU from a coal and steel Community into a 26 member supranational Union with a significant regional and international economic, legal, and political leverage, evidently brings to the fore the definition (or the redefinition) of the EU's role in regional and international affairs…
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