The EU Normative Power as a Shield for Dependency?

This paper aims to assess the substance of the claim that the European Union acts like a normative power in its relations with Colombia. The first section explains the reasoning behind selecting Ian Manners’ normative power theory for approaching this topic, and compares the relevance of this theory to alternatives. The second section examines the EU’s normative influence over Colombia based on the sub-regional and bilateral agreements made over the last 20 years. The third section contains a critical analysis of political and economic relations between the EU and Colombia, based on EU Country Strategy Papers, the EU-Colombia-Peru FTA, and EU-CAN relations in general. Having established that there is a gap between pure intentions and actual outcomes, the final section proposes the restoration of dependency theory as a useful means for examining this discrepancy.

The first section of this article explains the choice of normative power theory for researching the topic at hand: both by explaining the essence of the EU’s normative power according to Ian Manners’ understanding, and by comparing this understanding with civilian and soft power theory. The second section will stress the EU’s normative influence over Colombia on the grounds of the many sub-regional and bilateral agreements that were signed between the two entities in the last 20 years. In the third section, the operational scopes of the EU’s three principal actions towards Colombia (EU-CAN relations, EU Country Strategy Papers and the EU-Colombia-Peru FTA) will be analysed in order to highlight their main weaknesses. Lastly, in the final section, these investigations will lead us to concludethat a seemingly outdated thesis such as the dependency theory can be restored and explain the revealed capabilities-expectation gap of normative power.

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