Edited by Antonina Bakardjieva Engelbrekt, Moa Mårtensson, Lars Oxelheim and Thomas Persson
Chapter 2: Transformative power or political dwarf? European leadership and global imbalances
Academic interest in the European Union (EU) as a global actor has grown tremendously over the last two decades. This interest was sparked by the fact that the EU expanded its competences significantly in foreign and security policy after the end of the Cold War. It is no surprise, therefore, that academics renewed their interest in conceptual definitions of the EU as a global power (Manners, 2002; Sjursen, 2006; Aggestam, 2008; Smith, 2010) – although this is not a new debate per se (Duchêne, 1972; Galtung, 1973; Bull, 1982). The argument of this chapter is that much of this writing contains implicit assumptions about European leadership in global politics, although the concept of leadership itself is rarely defined explicitly. Depending on the theoretical orientation of scholars along the idealism/realism spectrum, the Union has been conceived either as a significant transformative leader of global politics (Manners, 2002; Risse and Börzel, 2009), or as a political dwarf structurally incapable of exercising effective leadership in a world dominated by power politics (Hyde-Price, 2008; Toje, 2010).
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