Normative power and EU arms transfer policy: A theoretical critique and empirical test
[Normative Macht und die EU-Waffenlieferungspolitik: Eine theoretische Kritik und ein empirischer Test]
Arms transfers are both an economic necessity for the European arms industry and a potential obstacle for the emerging normative power role of the European Union (EU) in world affairs. Indeed, the biggest markets for arms exports in the post-Cold War era are often in states engaged in conflict or high levels of internal repression – precisely where the EU’s normative policy agenda seeks to promote peace, stability, and respect for human rights. Despite these glaring contradictions, however, research on how well the EU’s arms transfer behavior mirrors its normative power rhetoric has been largely absent. This article attempts to fill this theoretical and empirical void. I use regression analysis to examine the relationship between EU arms exports and the human rights, conflict, and democracy records of recipient states from 1990 to 2004. A case study of the debate to lift the arms embargo to China provides a more in-depth assessment of the politics behind EU arms transfers. Both analyses highlight the need to consider material interests and normative concerns in tandem in order to understand EU foreign policy. The findings also suggest that low levels of EU socialization and the predominance of domestic interests and values may hinder the creation of a single European external identity.
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