Can the Discourse on ÒSoft PowerÓ Help the EU to Bridge its Capability-Expectations Gap?
Recently, a new buzz word has appeared in official speeches in the field of the European UnionÕs external relations: ÒSoft powerÓ. The notion was first coined for American foreign policy and is now at the heart of EU foreign policy discourses, especially the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). The ENP launched in 2003 for the new EU neighbours draws heavily on the experience of the past enlargements by exporting internal norms, values and policies abroad. The article explores the hypothesis that the discourse on Òsoft powerÓ represents an attempt to go beyond a traditional understanding of foreign policy and of conditionality. By developing its own definition of Òsoft powerÓ, the EU tries to position itself on the international stage by preferring civilian over coercive means and thus seeks to increase the ENPÕs legitimacy through attraction instead of accession. Nevertheless, it will need to improve its internal consistency if it wants to avoid serious criticism of the ENP and bridge its famous capability-expectations gap.
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