From Civilian and Normative Power to Resilience


The 2016 EU’s Global Strategy introduced the concept of resilience. The goal of this article is to identify continuity and change between resilience, on the one hand, and civilian (soft) power and normative power (two concepts that previously formed the ideational basis of the EU’s foreign relations), on the other hand. Three aspects are compared: historical context of how three concepts developed; the role of values and interests;  and  correlation  between  internal  and  external  for  the  EU’s  processes  in  the  articulation and realisation of the concepts. Historical aspects demonstrate three differences. The concepts of civilian power and normative power emerged as a result of the analysis of the EEC / EU’s activities at the peak of their developments; they have mostly been used in the academia and did not require any official explanation. Resilience was borrowed from the international practice at the  time when  the  EU  faced various crises. However, the EU substantially transformed this concept, which required official explanations. The EU has made an effort to reconcile values, formulated earlier, with interests of today. The notion of principled pragmatism and values defined as interests have been used accordingly. The EU also pays attention to risks (as oppose to the resources of resilience and relevant governance techniques). The instruments to promote values have also undergone transformation: the EU puts greater responsibility on its partners, the process of values’ promotion became more technocratic whereas the EU  prioritises dialogues with civil societies of third countries. Therefore, we suggest defining the EU’s resilience  as defensive normative power. Finally, resilience, like civilian power and normative power before, is used to bridge the EU’s internal developments with its external activities. However, the EU’s resilience is context­ based. Norms are promoted unilaterally, the inclusion of partners into the core is not foreseen. The EU expects transformation on the part of its partners but stabilisation and protection of  what  has  been achieved for itself (rather than further reassessment and development of norms). This interpretation of resilience contradicts the  notion of the  normative power but  allows for  parallels between resilience  and civilian  (soft)  power.


normative power; civilian power; resilience; European Union; EU Global Strategy.


Authors: Tatiana Romanova, Elena Pavlova

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