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Prospects for the narrative of "Ethical Europe"

Hanna Tuominen
University of Helsinki
Hanna Tuominen
University of Helsinki
Open Panel

Abstract

The EU has been considered to be an exceptional actor that shapes the conceptions of ‘normality’ in international relations. European normative or ethical agency refers to its possibility to act as a “force for good” in global politics. Different normative aspects of the EU policies have been studied widely. However this European normative agenda has been contested lately for several reasons. Incoherence, partiality and empty rhetoric seem to prevail. My paper discusses the possible futures of the narrative of Ethical Europe. Will the EU continue to legitimate and condition its policies through the language of human rights and democracy promotion? Or is the promotion of shared values and principles abandoned by Brussels because it does not bring enough success in several policy areas? Are the gaps between ideas and reality becoming too wide? I will study these questions from the perspective of EU’s human rights policy. In order to work properly, European normative agenda needs to show signs of success and utility. It is not only the means but also ends that must be re-evaluated. I will propose a more realistic and utilitarian assessment of the EU’s future possibilities to promote and protect human rights. The credibility and success of the normative agenda will destine to a large degree also the wider possibilities of the EU in global arena.