A liberal grand strategy in a realist world? Power, purpose and the EU’s changing global role

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Series Details Vol.18, No.2, March 2011, p144-163
Publication Date March 2011
ISSN 1350-1763
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The European Union (EU) is one of the most unusual global political actors, and it inspires numerous scholarly debates about its power and purpose. One of the most important such debates involves the role of material versus non-material/ideational power resources - or hard versus soft power - in understanding the EU's 'actorness'. Given the increasingly wide range of EU policy competencies, and the increasingly complex demands placed on the EU, this article embeds this debate in the larger context of grand strategy. It first argues that the EU's efforts as a global actor do conform to three basic components of grand strategy: physical security; economic prosperity; and value projection. Second, it analyses the content of the EU's grand strategic goals at three levels of analysis: intra-EU; regional (or neighbourhood); and global. Finally, it analyses the EU's implementation of its (largely liberal) strategic goals, particularly in terms of how they might compete with those of other global actors, such as the United States (US).

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