When Legitimacy meets Violence. The Limits of EU’s Soft Power in the Eastern Partnership
Keywords:Eastern Partnership; legitimacy; violence; European Union
Looking at the evolution of the Eastern Partnership in the last decade we can identify a number of
contradictory messages on the part of both sides involved. On the one hand, the EU has its own stated
objectives with this initiative, and on the other hand the member states have their own expectations and goals,
that more than once are subject to heterogeneous pressures. While the EU has proposed economic and political
measures for the transformation of the EaP member states, these measures have been counterbalanced by
military interventions on the territory of three of the EaP member states: Republic of Moldova, Georgia and
Ukraine. Another important actor in the region, NATO has different relations with the three mentioned states,
but nonetheless can be considered as the other relevant transforming element in the region, together with EU.
EU’s relation with its Eastern neighbours has been under considerable pressure after 2014. Although the
relations continued to deepen this has be mostly on the economic rather than on the political sector. However,
some groups still consider EU as a legitimate actor in the region. The problem of legitimacy in the evolution
of international organizations has attracted a number of important researchers in the last years and the goal of
this article in to contribute to this discussion. Due to the fact that military interventions took place in the three
EaP member countries, we consider this to be a relevant feature that must be taken into account when
analysing the capacity of the member states to comply with the reforms asked of them.
Banchoff, Thomas & Smith, Mitchell (Eds.). (2005). Legitimacy and the European Union: The contested polity. London:
Barbé, Esther; Costa, Oriol; Herranz, Surrallés Anna & Natorski Michal. (2009). Which rules shape EU external governance?
Patterns of rule selection in foreign and security policies. Journal of European Public Policy. 16:6, pp. 834-852. DOI
Bengtsson, Rikard. (2008). Constructing Interfaces: the Neighbourhood Discourse in EU External Policy. Journal of
European Integration, 30:5, pp. 597-616, DOI:10.1080/07036330802439582.
Bengtsson, Rikard & Elgstrom, Ole. (2012). Conflicting role conceptions? The European Union in global politics. Foreign
Policy Analysis 8:1, pp. 93–108.
Bailey, David. & Bossuyt, Fabienne. (2013). The European Union as a Conveniently-conflicted Counterhegemon through
Trade. Journal of Contemporary European Research. 9:4, pp. 560-577.
Bull, Hedley. (1995). The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics. 2d ed. New York: Columbia University
Clark, Ian. (2003). Legitimacy in a Global Order. Review of International Studies, 29.Governance and Resistance in World
Politics. Cambridge University Press, pp. 75-95, https://www.jstor.org/stable/20097886.
Dekanozishvili, Mariam. (2020). The European Union’s credibility–expectations gap in its European neighbourhood policy:
perspectives from Georgia and Ukraine. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, pp. 1-18, DOI:
Lambert, Michael Eric. (2018). Soft power vs. hard power: the diplomatic struggle of the Western world in the East. New
Lecocq, Sharon & Keukeleire, Stephan. (2018). Decentring the analysis of EU foreign policy and external-internal
legitimacy: (re-)introducing polity. Global Affairs. DOI:10.1080/23340460.2018.1532307.
Hill, Cristopher. (1993). The capability — expectations gap, or conceptualizing Europe’s international role. Journal of
Common Market Studies 31, 3, pp. 305–28.
Hurd, Ian. (1999). Legitimacy and authority in international politics. International Organization, 53:2, pp. 379-408.
Clark, Ian. (2003). Legitimacy in global order. Review of International Studies 29, no. 1: pp. 75–95.
Manners, Ian. (2002). Normative power Europe: A contradiction in terms? Journal of Common Market Studies, 40, 2, pp.
Sjursen Helene. (2018): The legitimacy of European Union foreign policy. Global Affairs, pp. 1-13,
Raube, Kolja & Tonra, Ben. (2018). From internal-input to external-output: a multi-tiered understanding of legitimacy in EU
foreign policy. Global Affairs, 4:2-3, pp. 241-251, DOI:10.1080/23340460.2018.1535836.
EU (2020). Eastern Partnership policy beyond 2020: Council approves conclusions.
EU (2020). EU-Armenia relations – factsheet. https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/eap_summit_factsheet_armenia_enupdated.
EU (2020). EU-Azerbaijan relations – factsheet.
EU (2020). Facts and figures about EU-Belarus relations. https://trelloattachments.
EU (2020). EU-Turkey statement, 18 March 2016. Press release https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/pressreleases/
EU (2020). The Eastern Partnership beyond 2020: Reinforcing Resilience – an Eastern Partnership that delivers for all.
EU. (2016). Shared vision, common action: A stronger Europe. A global strategy for the European Union’s foreign and
security policy. http://eeas.europa.eu/archives/docs/top_stories/pdf/eugs_review_web.pdf.
Copyright (c) 2021 Mihaela-Adriana Padureanu
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
You are free to:
- Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
- Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material
- for any purpose, even commercially.
- The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.
Under the following terms:
- No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.