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Normative Power Europe at a Crossroads? The Normative Dimensions of the EU’s Relations with ASEAN and ECOWAS


To what extent can the EU exert normative pressure on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS)? As the EU displays multiple sets of policies espousing these norms and attaches normative conditionality to financial assistance to external partners, the concept purported by Ian Manners called “normative power Europe” is used to analyse the normative aims of the EU in ASEAN and ECOWAS. In particular, attention is devoted to democracy, human rights, and to the political and economic domains. In the political sphere, human rights and non-intervention pose significant challenges to EU–ASEAN relations. In contrast, in the economic domain, the EU successfully utilised economic incentives to expand its normative power in ASEAN. Normative pressure in ECOWAS is more focused on political domains, in which peace and security norms are prioritised over human rights and democratic processes. In contrast, the economic and development models of the EU are less well received in ECOWAS compared with ASEAN, where trade remains the priority of interregional cooperation.