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The EU has been generally content to view itself, and to let others view it, as a normative power. But, it has always had difficulty defining its interests. In response to this the EU and its members have normally contented themselves with the explanation that values are synonymous with interests and vice versa. This is, however, insufficient, especially in an international system where illiberal powers offer alternative ways of engaging states and organizations. The insistence on the EU’s normative character also exposed the creeping moral relativism in the Union’s external actions. A second, often uncontested, element of the EU’s external engagement lies in effective multilateralism and the rule of law. However, this too showed evidence of relativism in terms of the over-representation of the EU’s members in many international organizations and hazy conceptions of how international law should guide external actions in an increasingly contested and illiberal international system.
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- In Search of Strategy
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