Events & News


Still An “Unidentified Political Object? The European Union Enters the 21st Century”

Associate Professor Barnard Turner, Senior Fellow, EU Centre in Singapore

09 September 2009

CIT Auditorium, Computer Centre Level 2, NUS



What Richard Bellamy and David Castiglione (2003) have designated the “normative turn” in European Union (EU) Studies, and what Ian Manners (2002) has called “normative power Europe” would seemingly follow E H Carr (1939) in distinguishing “economic power, military power and power over opinion” (Manners [2003] 239). Yet in his Twenty Years’ Crisis, Carr is clear to smudge the edges of such a distinction, at one point referring to “the illusory character of the popular distinction between economic and military power”. “Power,” he continues, “is an element of all political action, is one and indivisible” (1939: 119); what is needed instead, he opines, is a “general return to the term ‘political economy’” (108).

Yet some concept of the EU as a normative power has become so well inscribed not only in its theorization but also in its popular and institutional understanding that the dichotomies inherent in such a view, its inherent but underplayed dialectics, might needs be reassessed in the light of empirical evidence of popular opinion from the EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty referenda and the 2009 European Parliament election results. Norm‐building, rather than normative strategies seem to be the norm as the EU enters the new century. This presentation is intended as the first of a series on related topics, inclusive of Euroscepticism, reading Jean Monnet’s Memoirs, and the EU’s response to global warming.