Normative by nature? The role of coherence in justifying the EU’s external human rights policy

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Series Details Vol.13, No.2, March 2006, p304-321
Publication Date March 2006
ISSN 1350-1763
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In order to assess the EU's ‘normative power’, the article compares the justification of the EU's external policy regarding the death penalty and minority protection, respectively. Starting from the assumption that policies can be justified by utility- , value- or rights-based arguments, it reasons that in complex argumentations all types are deployed, so that coherence between different justifications is an important legitimizing factor. In the death penalty case, EU policy developed in line with the requirements of argumentative coherence, while in the case of minority protection, the shift from utility- to value-based arguments exposed incoherence between the internal and external application of the policy. This incoherence triggered a discursive ‘realignment strategy’, linking the external policy back to established EU norms. However, this does not suspend the tension between the different internal and external approaches to minority protection, thereby diminishing the EU's normative power in this issue area.

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